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U.S. Department of Transportation


Federal Highway Administration

Publication No. FHWA-NHI-00-043

NHI Course No. 132042

MECHANICALLY STABILIZED EARTH WALLS AND


REINFORCED SOIL SLOPES
DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION GUIDELINES

NHI National Highway Institute


Office of Bridge Technology
March 2001

NOTICE

The contents of this report reflect the views of the authors, who are responsible for the facts
and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect policy
of the Department of Transportation. This report does not constitute a standard, specification,
or regulation. The United States Government does not endorse products or manufacturers.
Trade or manufacturer's names appear herein only because they are considered essential to
the objective of this document.

Technical Report Documentation Page


1. REPORT NO.

FHWA-NHI-00-043

2. GOVERNMENT
ACCESSION NO.

3. RECIPIENT'S CATALOG NO.

4. TITLE AND SUBTITLE

5. REPORT DATE

March 2001

Mechanically Stabilized Earth Walls and


Reinforced Soil Slopes Design and
Construction Guidelines

6. PERFORMING ORGANIZATION CODE

7. AUTHOR(S)

8. PERFORMING ORGANIZATION REPORT NO.

Victor Elias, P.E.; Barry R. Christopher,


Ph.D., P.E. and Ryan R. Berg, P.E.
9. PERFORMING ORGANIZATION NAME AND ADDRESS

10. WORK UNIT NO.

Ryan R. Berg & Associates, Inc.


2190 Leyland Alcove
Woodbury, MN 55125

11. CONTRACT OR GRANT NO.

12. SPONSORING AGENCY NAME AND ADDRESS

13. TYPE OF REPORT & PERIOD COVERED

DTFH61-99-T-25041

National Highway Institute


Federal Highway Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
Washington, D.C.

14. SPONSORING AGENCY CODE

15. SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES

FHWA Technical Consultant: J.A. DiMaggio, P.E. (HIBT-20)


This manual is the updated version of FHWA SA96-071 prepared by E2Si.
16. ABSTRACT

This manual is the reference text used for the FHWA NHI course No. 132042 on
Mechanically Stabilized Earth Walls and Reinforced Soil Slopes and reflects current practice
for the design, construction and monitoring of these structures. This manual was prepared to
enable the engineer to identify and evaluate potential applications of MSEW and RSS as an
alternative to other construction methods and as a means to solve construction problems. The
scope is sufficiently broad to be of value for specifications specialists, construction and
contracting personnel responsible for construction inspection, development of material
specifications and contracting methods. With the aid of this text, the engineer should be able
to properly select, design, specify, monitor and contract for the construction of MSE walls and
RSS embankments.
17. KEY WORDS

18. DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT

Design, analysis, performance criteria,


Mechanically Stabilized Earth Walls
(MSEW), Reinforced Soil Slopes (RSS), soil
reinforcement, geosynthetics, geotextiles,
geogrids, specifications, contracting methods
19. SECURITY CLASSIF.

20. SECURITY CLASSIF.

Unclassified

Unclassified

No restrictions.

21. NO. OF PAGES

394
i

22

SI CONVERSION FACTORS
APPROXIMATE CONVERSIONS FROM SI UNITS
Symbol

When You Know

Multiply By

To Find

Symbol

inches
feet
yards
miles

in
ft
yd
mi

square inches
square feet
square yards
acres
square miles

in 2
ft 2
yd 2
ac
mi2

fluid ounces
gallons
cubic feet
cubic yards

fl oz
gal
ft 3
yd 3

ounces
pounds

oz
lb

Fahrenheit

?F

poundforce / cubic foot

pcf

LENGTH
mm
m
m
km

millimeters
meters
meters
kilometers

0.039
3.28
1.09
0.621
AREA

mm2
m2
m2
ha
km2

square millimeters
square meters
square meters
hectares
square kilometers

0.0016
10.764
1.195
2.47
0.386
VOLUME

ml
l
m3
m3

millimeters
liters
cubic meters
cubic meters

0.034
0.264
35.71
1.307
MASS

g
kg

grams
kilograms

0.035
2.202
TEMPERATURE

?C

Celsius

1.8 C + 32
WEIGHT DENSITY

kN/m3

kilonewton / cubic meter

6.36

FORCE and PRESSURE or STRESS


N
kN
kPa
kPa

newtons
kilonewtons
kilopascals
kilopascals

0.225
225
0.145
20.9

ii

poundforce
poundforce
poundforce / square inch
poundforce / square foot

lbf
lbf
psi
psf

PREFACE

Engineers and specialty material suppliers have been designing reinforced soil structures for the past
25 years. During the last decade significant improvements have been made to design methods and
in the understanding of factors affecting the durability of reinforcements.
In order to take advantage of these new developments the FHWA developed a manual (in connection
with Demonstration Project No. 82, Ground Improvement), FHWA SA96-071, which is the basis
for this updated version. The primary purpose of this manual is to support educational programs
conducted by FHWA for transportation agencies.
A second purpose of equal importance is to serve as the FHWA standard reference for highway
projects involving reinforced soil structures.
This Mechanically Stabilized Earth Walls (MSE) and Reinforced Soil Slopes (RSS), Design and
Construction Guidelines Manual which is a current update of FHWA SA-96-071, has evolved from
the following AASHTO and FHWA references:
!

Reinforced Soil Structures - Volume I, Design and Construction Guidelines - Volume II,
Summary of Research and Systems Information, by B.R. Christopher, S.A. Gill, J.P. Giroud,
J.K. Mitchell, F. Schlosser, and J. Dunnicliff, FHWA RD 89-043.

Geosynthetic Design and Construction Guidelines, by R.D. Holtz, B.R. Christopher, and
R.R. Berg, FHWA HI-95-038.

AASHTO, 1992, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999 Interims, Section 5.8.

Design and Construction Monitoring of Mechanically Stabilized Earth Structures, by J.A.


DiMaggio, FHWA, March 1994.

Guidelines for Design, Specification, and Contracting of Geosynthetic Mechanically


Stabilized Earth Slopes on Firm Foundations, by R.R. Berg, FHWA-SA-93-025, January
1993.

AASHTO Bridge T-15 Technical Committee unpublished working drafts for the update of
Section 5.8 of the AASHTO Bridge Design Specifications.

The authors recognize the efforts of Mr. Jerry A. DiMaggio, P.E. who was the FHWA Technical
Consultant for this work, and served in the same capacity for most of the above referenced
publications. Mr. DiMaggio's guidance and input to this and the previous works has been
invaluable.
The authors further acknowledge the efforts of Mr. Tony Allen, Washington DOT, members of
the AASHTO T-15 committee and the following Technical Working Group members who served
as a review panel listed in alphabetical order:
iii

Dr. Donald Bruce


Dr. James Collin
Mr. Albert DiMillio
Mr. Richard Endres
Mr. John Hooks
Dr. John Horvath
Mr. Richard Sheffield
Mr. Michael Simac
Mr. Ed Tavera

ECO Geosystems Inc.


The Collin Group
FHWA
Michigan DOT
FHWA
Manhattan College
Mississippi DOT
Ground Improvement Technologies
Louisiana DOT

Lastly, the authors wish to thank the clerical and computer graphics staff of Earth Engineering
and Sciences, Inc. for their vital contributions and significant effort in preparing the earlier
version of this manual.

iv

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1.1
OBJECTIVES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
a.
Scope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
b.
Source Documents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
c.
Terminology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1.2
HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

-1-1-1-2-2-4-

CHAPTER 2 SYSTEMS AND PROJECT EVALUATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -92.1


APPLICATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -92.2
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -15a.
Advantages of Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) Walls . . . . . . . . . . . -15b.
Advantages of Reinforced Soil Slopes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -15c.
Disadvantages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -162.3
RELATIVE COSTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -172.4
DESCRIPTION OF MSE/RSS SYSTEMS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -20a.
Systems Differentiation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -20b.
Types of Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -20c.
Facing Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -21d.
Reinforcement Types . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -25e.
Reinforced Backfill Materials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -26f.
Miscellaneous Materials of Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -262.5
SITE EVALUATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -27a.
Site Exploration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -27b.
Field Reconnaissance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -27c.
Subsurface Exploration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -28d.
Laboratory Testing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -292.6
PROJECT EVALUATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -30a.
Structure Selection Factors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -30b.
Geologic and Topographic Conditions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -31c.
Environmental Conditions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -32d.
Size and nature of structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -33e.
Aesthetics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -33f.
Questionable Applications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -342.7
ESTABLISHMENT OF PROJECT CRITERIA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -34a.
Alternates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -35b.
Facing Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -35c.
Performance Criteria . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -36d.
Design Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -402.8
CONSTRUCTION SEQUENCE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -40a.
Construction of MSEW systems with precast facings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -41b.
Construction of MSE systems with Flexible Facings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -42c.
RSS Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -46-

2.9

PROPRIETARY ASPECTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -46a.


Materials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -46b.
Special Applications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -46-

CHAPTER 3 SOIL REINFORCEMENT PRINCIPLES


AND SYSTEM DESIGN PROPERTIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.1
OVERVIEW . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.2
REINFORCED SOIL CONCEPTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.3
SOIL REINFORCEMENT INTERACTION USING NORMALIZED
CONCEPTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
a.
Evaluation of Pullout Performance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
b.
Estimate of the Reinforcement Pullout Capacity in RSS and MSE
Structures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
c.
Interface Shear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.4
ESTABLISHMENT OF ENGINEERING PROPERTIES BASED ON SITE
EXPLORATION AND TESTING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
a.
Foundation Soils . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
b.
Reinforced Backfill Soil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
c.
Retained Fill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
d.
Electrochemical Properties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.5
ESTABLISHMENT OF STRUCTURAL DESIGN PROPERTIES . . . . . . . . . .
a.
Geometric Characteristics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
b.
Strength Properties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

-51-51-51-54-54-56-61-61-61-62-65-65-66-66-67-

CHAPTER 4 DESIGN OF MSE WALLS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -814.1


DESIGN METHODS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -81a.
Analysis of Working Stresses for MSEW Structures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -82b.
Limit Equilibrium Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -82c.
Deformation Evaluations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -82d.
Design Methods, Inextensible Reinforcements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -83e.
Design Methods, Extensible Reinforcements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -834.2
SIZING FOR EXTERNAL STABILITY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -83a.
Define wall geometry and soil properties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -85b.
Select performance criteria . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -86c.
Preliminary Sizing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -86d.
Earth Pressures for External Stability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -86e.
Sliding Stability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -92f.
Bearing Capacity Failure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -95g.
Overall Stability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -96h.
Seismic Loading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -98i.
Settlement Estimate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -1024.3
SIZING FOR INTERNAL STABILITY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -102a.
Critical Slip Surfaces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -104b.
Calculation of Maximum Tensile Forces in the
Reinforcement Layers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -104c.
Internal Stability with Respect to Pullout Failure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -112vi

d.
Seismic Loading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
e.
Connection Strength . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
f.
Reinforcement Spacing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
DESIGN OF FACING ELEMENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
a.
Design of Concrete, Steel and Timber Facings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
b.
Design of Flexible Wall Facings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
DESIGN DETAILS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
a.
Traffic Barriers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
b.
Drainage Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
c.
Termination to Cast-in-place Structures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
d.
Hydrostatic Pressures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
e.
Obstructions in Reinforced Soil Zone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
f.
Internal Details . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
DESIGN EXAMPLE Steel Strip Reinforcement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
a.
Hand Calculation Example . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
b.
Computer-Aided Solution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
DESIGN EXAMPLE Geosynthetic Reinforcement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
a.
Hand Calculation Example . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
b.
Computer-Aided Solution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
STANDARD MSEW DESIGNS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

-113-116-120-121-121-121-122-122-124-124-124-124-127-131-131-136-145-145-155-165-

CHAPTER 5 DESIGN OF MSE WALLS WITH COMPLEX GEOMETRICS . . . . . . . . . . .


5.1
BRIDGE ABUTMENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
a.
MSEW Abutments on Spread Footings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
b.
MSEW Abutments on Pile Foundations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.2
SUPERIMPOSED WALLS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.3
WALLS WITH UNEVEN REINFORCEMENT LENGTHS . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.4
BACK-TO-BACK WALLS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.5
DETAILS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.6
DESIGN EXAMPLE, BRIDGE ABUTMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
a.
Hand Calculation Example . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
b.
Computer-Aided Solution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

-169-171-171-173-175-177-178-180-181-181-189-

CHAPTER 6 REINFORCED (STEEPENED) SOIL SLOPES PROJECT EVALUATION . .


6.1
INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.2
REINFORCED SOIL SLOPE SYSTEMS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
a.
Types of Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
b.
Construction Materials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.3
DESIGN APPROACH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
a.
Use Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
b.
Design of Reinforcement for Compaction Aid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
c.
Design of Reinforcement for Steepening Slopes and Slope Repair . . . . .
d.
Computer-Assisted Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
e.
Evaluation of External Stability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.4
CONSTRUCTION SEQUENCE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

-193-193-193-193-193-194-194-195-195-197-199-201-

4.4

4.5

4.6

4.7

4.8

vii

6.5

6.6

6.7

6.8

TREATMENT OF OUTWARD FACE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


a.
Grass Type Vegetation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
b.
Soil Bioengineering (Woody Vegetation) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
c.
Armored . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
DESIGN DETAILS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
a.
Guardrail and Traffic Barriers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
b.
Drainage Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
c.
Obstructions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
CASE HISTORIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
a.
The Dickey Lake Roadway Grade Improvement Project . . . . . . . . . . .
b.
Salmon-Lost Trail Roadway Widening Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
c.
Cannon Creek Alternate Embankment Construction Project . . . . . . . . .
d.
Pennsylvania SR 54 Roadway Repair Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
e.
Massachusetts Turnpike - Use of Soil Bioengineering . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
STANDARD RSS DESIGNS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

-205-205-206-209-210-210-210-211-211-211-214-216-217-219-221-

CHAPTER 7 DESIGN OF REINFORCED SOIL SLOPES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -2237.1


INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -2237.2
REINFORCED SLOPE DESIGN GUIDELINES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -225Step 1.
Establish the geometric, loading, and performance requirements for
design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -225Step 2.
Determine the engineering properties of the in situ soils . . . . . . . -225Step 3.
Determine the properties of reinforced fill and, if different, the
retained fill. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -227Step 4.
Evaluate design parameters for the reinforcement. . . . . . . . . . . . -227Step 5.
Check unreinforced stability. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -228Step 6.
Design reinforcement to provide a stable slope. . . . . . . . . . . . . . -229Step 7.
Check external stability. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -237Step 8.
Seismic stability. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -241Step 9.
Evaluate requirements for subsurface and surface water runoff
control. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -2437.3
COMPUTER ASSISTED DESIGN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -2457.4
DESIGN EXAMPLES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -246a.
Example 1. Reinforced Slope Design -Road Widening . . . . . . . . . . . . . -246b.
Example 2. Reinforced Slope Design -New Road Construction . . . . . . -253c.
Example 3. Computer-Aided Solution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -261d.
Example 4. Facing Stability Calculation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -2707.5
PROJECT COST ESTIMATES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -273CHAPTER 8 CONTRACTING METHODS AND SPECIFICATIONS
FOR MSE WALLS AND SLOPES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
8.1
POLICY DEVELOPMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
8.2
SYSTEM OR COMPONENT APPROVALS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
8.3
DESIGN AND PERFORMANCE CRITERIA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
8.4
AGENCY OR SUPPLIER DESIGN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
a.
Plan and Elevation Sheets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
viii

-275-276-276-279-279-280-

8.5

8.6

8.7
8.8
8.9
8.10
8.11
8.12

b.
Facing/Panel Details . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -281c.
Drainage Facilities/Special Details . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -281d.
Design Computations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -281e.
Geotechnical Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -281f.
Construction Specifications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -282END RESULT DESIGN APPROACH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -282a.
Geometric Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -282b.
Geotechnical Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -283c.
Structural and Design Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -283d.
Performance Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -283STANDARD DESIGNS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -284a.
MSEW Standard Designs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -284b.
RSS Standard Designs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -285REVIEW AND APPROVALS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -287CONSTRUCTION SPECIFICATIONS AND SPECIAL PROVISIONS FOR
MSEW AND RSS CONSTRUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -287GUIDE SPECIFICATIONS FOR MSE WALLS WITH SEGMENTAL
PRECAST CONCRETE FACINGS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -288GUIDE SPECIFICATIONS FOR CONCRETE MODULAR BLOCK (MBW)
FACING AND UNIT FILL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -296GUIDE SPECIFICATIONS FOR GEOSYNTHETIC REINFORCEMENT
MATERIALS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -300CONSTRUCTION SPECIFICATIONS FOR REINFORCED
SLOPE SYSTEMS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -303a.
Specification Guidelines For RSS Construction (Agency Design) . . . . . . -303b.
Specification for Erosion Control Mat or Blanket . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -308c.
Specification for Geosynthetic Drainage Composite . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -310d.
Specification Guidelines for Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil
Slope Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -314-

CHAPTER 9 FIELD INSPECTION AND PERFORMANCE MONITORING . . . . . . . . . . .


9.1
PRECONSTRUCTION REVIEWS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
a.
Plans and Specifications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
b.
Review of Site Conditions and Foundation Requirements . . . . . . . . . . .
9.2
PREFABRICATED MATERIALS INSPECTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
a.
Precast Concrete Elements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
b.
Reinforcing Elements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
c.
Facing Joint Materials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
d.
Reinforced Backfill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
9.3
CONSTRUCTION CONTROL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
a.
Leveling Pad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
b.
Erection of Facing Elements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
c.
Reinforced Fill Placement, Compaction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
d.
Placement of Reinforcing Elements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
e.
Placement of Subsequent Facing Courses (Segmental Facings) . . . . . . .

ix

-317-317-319-319-320-320-322-324-324-324-324-326-330-333-335-

9.4

PERFORMANCE MONITORING PROGRAMS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


a.
Purpose of Monitoring Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
b.
Limited Monitoring Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
c.
Comprehensive Monitoring Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
d.
Program Implementation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
e.
Data Interpretation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

-340-340-342-342-343-346-

REFERENCES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -347APPENDIX A DETERMINATION OF PULLOUT RESISTANCE FACTORS . . . . . . . . . . -351A.1


EMPIRICAL PROCEDURES TO DETERMINE F* AND a . . . . . . . . . . . . . -351A.2
EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURES TO DETERMINE F* AND a . . . . . . . . . -352A.3
CONNECTION RESISTANCE AND STRENGTH OF PARTIAL AND FULL
FRICTION SEGMENTAL BLOCK/REINFORCEMENT FACING
CONNECTIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -355APPENDIX A REFERENCES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -361APPENDIX B DETERMINATION OF CREEP STRENGTH REDUCTION FACTOR . . . . -363B.1
BACKGROUND . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -363B.2
STEP-BY-STEP PROCEDURES FOR EXTRAPOLATING STRESS RUPTURE
DATA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -365B.3. USE OF CREEP DATA FROM "SIMILAR" PRODUCTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -370B.4
CREEP EXTRAPOLATION EXAMPLES USING STRESS
RUPTURE DATA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -370B.4.1 Stress Rupture Extrapolation Example 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -371B.4.2 Stress Rupture Extrapolation Example 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -373APPENDIX B REFERENCES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -380APPENDIX C APPROXIMATE COST RANGE OF GEOTEXTILES AND GEOGRIDS . . -383APPENDIX D TYPICAL DIMENSIONS OF STEEL REINFORCEMENTS . . . . . . . . . . . -385APPENDIX E EXAMPLE REINFORCED SOIL SLOPE ANALYSIS
with RSS COMPUTER PROGRAM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -387-

LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1.
Figure 2.
Figure 3.
Figure 4.
Figure 5.
Figure 6.
Figure 7.
Figure 8.
Figure 9.
Figure 10.
Figure 11.
Figure 12.
Figure 13.
Figure 14.
Figure 15.
Figure 16.
Figure 17.
Figure 18.
Figure 19.
Figure 20.
Figure 21.
Figure 22.
Figure 23.
Figure 24.
Figure 25.
Figure 26.
Figure 27.
Figure 28.
Figure 29.
Figure 30.
Figure 31.
Figure 32.
Figure 33.
Figure 34.
Figure 35.
Figure 36.
Figure 37.
Figure 38.
Figure 39.

Generic cross section of a MSE structure. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -3MSE walls, urban applications. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -11MSE wall applications, abutments, and marine. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -12Slope reinforcement using geosynthetics to provide slope stability. . . . . . . . . . . . . -13Application of reinforced soil slopes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -14Cost comparison for retaining walls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -17Cost evaluation of reinforced soil slopes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -19MSE wall surface treatments. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -22Examples of commercially available MBW units . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -23Empirical curve for estimating probable anticipated lateral displacement during
construction for MSE walls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -37Erection of precast panels. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -43Fill spreading and reinforcement connection. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -44Compaction of backfill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -45Lift construction sequence for geosynthetic faced MSE walls. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -47Typical geosynthetic face construction detail. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -48Types of geosynthetic reinforced soil wall facing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -49Reinforced slope construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -50Stress transfer mechanisms for soil reinforcement. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -53Definition of grid dimensions for calculating pullout capacity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -59Parameters for metal reinforcement strength calculations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -69Potential external failure mechanisms for a MSE wall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -84Computational procedures for active earth pressures (Coulomb analysis). . . . . . . -88External analysis: earth pressures/eccentricity; horizontal backslope with traffic
surcharge. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -89External analysis: earth pressure/eccentricity; sloping backfill case. . . . . . . . . . . . . -90External analysis: earth pressure/eccentricity; broken backslope case. . . . . . . . . . -91Calculation of vertical stress s v at the foundation level . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -93Seismic external stability of a MSE wall. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -99Location of potential failure surface for internal stability design
of MSE walls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -107Variation of stress ratio with depth in a MSE wall. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -107Calculation of vertical stress for sloping backslope conditions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -108Distribution of stress from concentrated vertical load Pv for internal and external
stability calculations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -110Distribution of stresses from concentrated horizontal loads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -111Seismic internal stability of a MSE wall. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -115Bodkin connection detail. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -117Determination of hinge height for modular concrete block faced MSE walls . . . . -119Impact load barrier. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -123Drainage blanket detail. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -125Impervious membrane details. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -125Reinforcing strip or mesh bend detail. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -126xi

Figure 40.
Figure 41.
Figure 42.
Figure 43.
Figure 44.
Figure 45.
Figure 46.
Figure 47.
Figure 48.
Figure 49.
Figure 50.
Figure 51.
Figure 52.
Figure 53.
Figure 54.
Figure 55.
Figure 56.
Figure 57.
Figure 58.
Figure 59.
Figure 60.
Figure 61.
Figure 62.
Figure 63.
Figure 64.
Figure 65.
Figure 66.
Figure 67.
Figure 68.
Figure 69.
Figure 70.
Figure 71.
Figure 72.
Figure 73.
Figure 74.
Figure 75.
Figure 76.
Figure 77.
Figure 78.
Figure 79.
Figure 80.
Figure 81.
Figure 82.
Figure 83.

Connection detail of junctures of MSE walls and CIP structure. . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Obstruction details: a) conceptual; b) at inlet. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
MBW drainage detail. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Drain fill placement for MBW with cores or tails. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Example of standard MSEW design. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Types of complex MSE structures. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Location of maximum tensile force line in case of large surcharge slabs . . . . . . . .
Pile supported MSE abutment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Design rules for superimposed walls. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Dimensioning a MSE wall with uneven reinforcement lengths. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Back-to-back wall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Abutment seat detail. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
MSE abutment design example. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Failure modes for reinforced soil slopes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Modified limit equilibrium analysis for reinforced slope design. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
External failure modes for reinforced soil slopes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Construction of reinforced soil slopes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Components of a vegetated reinforced slope (VRSS) system . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Dickey Lake site. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Salmon Lost Trail site. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Cannon Creek project. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Pennsylvania SR54. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Massachusetts Turnpike during construction, immediately after construction and
after the second growing season. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Example of standard RSS design. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Requirements for design of reinforced soil slopes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Critical zone defined by rotational and sliding surface that meet the required
safety factor. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Rotational shear approach to determine required strength of reinforcement . . . . .
Chart solution for determining the reinforcement strength requirements . . . . . . . .
Reinforcement spacing considerations for high slopes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Developing reinforcement lengths. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sliding stability analysis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Failure through the foundation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Seismic stability analysis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Subsurface drainage considerations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Design example 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Design example 2: stability analysis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Design example 2: global stability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Casting yard for precast facing elements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Inspect reinforcing elements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Leveling pads: a) concrete pad; b) compacted gravel pad. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Checking facing element batter and alignment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Full height facing panels require special alignment care. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Setting first row of precast facing elements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Placement of reinforced backfill. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
xii

-126-128-129-130-167-170-172-174-176-177-179-180-183-195-196-200-203-208-213-215-216-218-220-222-226-228-230-232-233-236-238-240-241-242-251-256-260-321-323-325-327-328-329-331-

Figure 84.
Figure 85.
Figure 86.
Figure A.1
Figure A.2
Figure A.3
Figure A.4
Figure A.5
Figure B.1
Figure B.2
Figure B.3
Figure B.4
Figure B.5
Figure B.6
Figure B.7

Compaction equipment showing: a) large equipment permitted away from face;


and b) lightweight equipment within 1 m of the face. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Facing connection examples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Geotextile joint cover and neoprene pads. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Experimental procedure to determine F* and a for soil reinforcement using
pullout test. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Creep Rupture Envelope for Geosynthetic Reinforcement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Connection Strength verses Normal Load . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Connection Strength verses Displacement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Connection Strength Rupture Curve . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Typical stress rupture data and the determination of shift factors for timetemperature superposition. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Extrapolation of stress rupture data and the determination
of creep limit load. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Wide width load-strain data for PET geosynthetic at 20?C. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Stress rupture data for PET geosynthetic at 20?C. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Wide width load-strain data for polyolefin geosynthetic at 20?C. . . . . . . . . . . . .
Stress rupture data for polyolefin geosynthetic. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Stress rupture data for polyolefin geosynthetic after time/load shifting. . . . . . . . .

xiii

-332-334-337-354-356-358-359-360-366-369-372-374-375-376-377-

[ BLANK ]

xiv

LIST OF TABLES
Table 1.
Table 2.
Table 3.
Table 4.
Table 5.
Table 6.
Table 7.
Table 8.
Table 9.
Table 10.
Table 11.
Table 12.
Table 13.
Table 14.
Table 15.
Table 16.
Table 17.
Table B-1:

Summary of reinforcement and face panel details for selected


MSE wall systems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -6Representative list of Geotextile and Geogrid manufacturers and suppliers. . . . . . . . -7Relationship between joint width and limiting differential
settlements for MSE precast panels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -40Basic aspects of reinforcement pullout performance in granular
and cohesive soils of low plasticity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -55Summary of pullout capacity design parameters. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -58Recommended limits of electrochemical properties for backfills
when using steel reinforcement. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -65Recommended limits of electrochemical properties for backfills
when using geosynthetic reinforcements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -66Anticipated resistance of polymers to specific environments. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -72Aging reduction factors, PET. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -75Installation damage reduction factors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -76Minimum requirements for use of default reduction factors
for primary geosynthetic reinforcement. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -79Bearing Capacity Factors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -97RSS slope facing options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -205Estimated Project Costs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -274MSE/RSS field inspection checklist. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -318Out-of-Tolerance conditions and possible causes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -338Possible instruments for monitoring reinforced soil structures. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -344Stress Rupture Data Before and After Time/Load Shifting to Equivalent
20o C Data for Polyolefin Geosynthetic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . -378-

xv

[ BLANK ]

xvi

TERMINOLOGY

maximum ground acceleration coefficient

AASHTO

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

AOS

apparent opening size of geotextile filter

Ac

design cross section area of the steel, defined as the original cross section
area minus corrosion losses anticipated to occur during the design life of
the wall

Am

maximum. wall acceleration coefficient at the centroid of the wall mass

At

tributary area for calculations

gross width of the strip, sheet or grid

soil cohesion

effective soil cohesion

cf

soil cohesion of foundation soil

cu

undrained shear strength of soft soil beneath slope

reinforcement effective unit perimeter; e.g., C = 2 for strips, grids, and


sheets

CEG

Carboxyl End Group

C.I.P.

cast-in-place concrete

CRcr

ratio of strength determined from appendix A.3 testing to roll specific


ultimate strength

CRu

ratio of strength determined from ASTM 4884 to roll specific ultimate


strength

Ci

interaction factor between reinforcement and soil

Cu

the uniformity coefficient of the backfill (D60 /D10 )

the moment arm of TS about the center of failure circle


xvii

Ds

depth of soft soil beneath slope base of the embankment

depth of water flow

dw

depth to water

Ec

thickness of the reinforcement at the end of the design life

En

nominal thickness of the reinforcement at time of construction

ER

sacrificial thickness of metal expected to be lost by uniform corrosion


during the service life of the structure

eccentricity

Fy

yield stress of steel

F*

the pullout resistance (or friction-bearing-interaction) factor

Fg

summation of geosynthetic resisting force

FH

horizontal earth pressure force

Fq

embedment (or surcharge) bearing capacity factor

FT

total earth pressure force

FS

overall factor of safety to account for uncertainties in the geometry of the


structure, fill properties, reinforcement properties, and externally applied
loads

FSMIN

minimum factor of safety

FSPO

factor of safety against pullout

FSR

required slope stability factor of safety

FSsqueezing

factor of safety against failure by squeezing

FSU

unreinforced slope stability factor of safety

fb

fraction of transverse grid member on which bearing can be fully developed

vertical wall or slope height

xviii

HDPE

high density polyethylene

HITEC

Highway Innovative Technology Evaluation Center of the Civil Research


Foundation

Ka

active lateral earth pressure coefficient

Kaf

active lateral earth pressure coefficient of retained fill soil

kh

horizontal seismic coefficient

kv

vertical seismic coefficient

total length of reinforcement

La

length of reinforcement in the active zone

Le

embedment or adherence length in the resisting zone behind the failure


surface

MD

driving moment about the center of the failure circle

Mn

number molecular weight

MR

resisting moment provided by the strength of the soil

MBW

masonry modular block wall facing unit

MDOT

Montana Department of Transportation

MN/DOT

Minnesota Department of Transportation

MSE

mechanically stabilized earth

MSEW

mechanically stabilized earth wall

Nc

dimensionless bearing capacity coefficient

Nq

dimensionless bearing capacity coefficient

N?

dimensionless bearing capacity coefficient

NCMA
NHI

= National Concrete Masonry Association


=

National Highway Institute

xix

PPM

parts per million

PAE :

seismic thrust

PIR

horizontal seismic inertia force

Pr

pullout resistance of the reinforcement per unit width

qa

allowable bearing capacity

qult

ultimate bearing capacity

the moment arm of TS about the center of failure circle

Rc

reinforcement coverage ratio b/sh

RF

the product of all applicable reduction factors to reinforcement tensile


strength

RFCR

creep reduction factor, is the ratio of the ultimate strength (TULT) to the
creep limit strength obtained from laboratory creep tests for each product

RFD

durability reduction factor, is dependent on the susceptibility of the


geosynthetic to attack by microorganisms, chemicals, thermal oxidation,
hydrolysis and stress cracking

RFID

installation damage reduction factor

ROR

relative orientation of reinforcement force

RSS

reinforced soil slope

the vertical to horizontal angle of slope face

sh

center-to-center horizontal spacing between strips, sheets, or grids

St

spacing of transverse bar of grid reinforcements

Srs

reinforcement strength needed to resist the static component of load

Srt

reinforcement strength needed to resist the dynamic or transient


component of load

thickness of the transverse bar of grid reinforcement

xx

Ta

the design long term reinforcement tension load for the limit state,
considering all time dependent strength losses over the design life period

Tac

the design long term connection strength

Tal

long-term tensile strength on a load per unit width of reinforcing basis

Tmax

maximum reinforcement tension

TMD

dynamic increment of tensile load

TS

sum of required tensile force per unit width of reinforcement (considering


rupture and pullout) in all reinforcement layers intersecting the failure
surface, in slope stability analysis

TS-MAX

largest TS calculated and establishes the total design tension

TULT

ultimate (or yield) tensile strength from wide strip test (ASTM D 4595) for
geotextiles and wide strip (ASTM D 4595) or single rib test (GR1:GG1)
for geogrids, based on minimum average roll value (MARV) for the
product

wopt.

optimum moisture content of soil

WA

weight of the active zone

Wu

front to back width of modular concrete block facing unit

VRSS

vegetated reinforced soil slope

vertical depth

a scale effect correction factor to account for a non linear stress reduction
over the embedded length of highly extensible reinforcements, based on
laboratory data

a bearing factor for passive resistance which is based on the thickness per
unit width of the bearing member

surcharge slope angle (MSEW)

slope angle (RSS)

wall friction angle

arc tan (Kh / 1 - Kv)


xxi

unit weight of the retained backfill

unit weight of soil

saturated unit weight of soil

unit weight of the reinforced backfill

unit weight of water

the peak friction angle of the soil

effective friction angle

friction angle of retained fill

min

minimum angle of shearing friction either between reinforced soil and


reinforcement or the friction angle of the foundation soil

the face inclination from a horizontal

tractive shear stress

the soil-reinforcement interaction friction angle

the effective vertical stress at the soil-reinforcement interfaces

xxii

CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
1.1

OBJECTIVES

New methods and technologies of retention and steepened-slope construction continue to be


developed, often by specialty contractors and suppliers, to solve problems in locations of restricted
Right-of-Way (ROW) and at marginal sites with difficult subsurface conditions and other
environmental constraints. Professionals charged with the responsibility of planning, designing, and
implementing improvements and additions in such locations need to understand the application,
limitations and costs associated with a host of measures and technologies available.
This manual was prepared to assist design engineers, specification writers, estimators, construction
inspectors and maintenance personnel with the selection, design and construction of Mechanically
Stabilized Earth Walls (MSEW) and Reinforced Soil Slopes (RSS), and the monitoring of their longterm performance.
The design, construction and monitoring techniques for these structures have evolved over the last
two decades as a result of efforts by researchers, material suppliers and government agencies to
improve some single aspect of the technology or the materials used. This manual is the first single,
comprehensive document to integrate all design, construction, materials, contracting and monitoring
aspects required for successful project implementation.
This manual has been developed in support of FHWA educational programs on the design and
construction monitoring of MSEW retaining structures and RSS construction. Its principal function
is to serve as a reference source to the materials presented. The manual serves as FHWA's primary
technical guideline on the use of this technology on transportation facilities.
a.

Scope
The manual addresses in a comprehensive manner the following areas:
!

Overview of MSE development and the cost, advantages, and disadvantages of using
MSE structures.

Available MSE systems and applications to transportation facilities.

Basic soil-reinforcement interaction.

Design of routine and complex MSE walls.

Design of steepened RSS.

-1-

Design of steepened RSS over soft foundations.

Specifications and contracting approaches for both MSE walls and RSS construction.

Construction monitoring and inspection.

Design examples as case histories with detailed cost savings documented.

A separate companion Manual addresses the long-term degradation of metallic and


polymeric reinforcements.
Sections of the Degradation manual address the
background of full-scale, long-term evaluation programs and the procedures required
to develop, implement, and evaluate them. These procedures have been developed
to provide practical information on this topic for MSE users for non corrosion or
polymer specialists, who are interested in developing long-term monitoring programs
for these types of structures.

As an integral part of this Manual, several student exercises and workshop problems are included
with solutions that demonstrate individual design aspects.
b.

Source Documents
The majority of the material presented in this Manual was abstracted from FHWA RD89-043
"Reinforced Soil Structures, Volume 1 Design and Construction Guidelines" , 1996 AASHTO
Specifications, both Division 1, Design and Division II, Construction, and direct input from
the AASHTO Bridge T-15 Technical Committee as part of their effort to update Section 5.8
of the AASHTO Bridge Specifications which resulted in the 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000
AASHTO Interims.
Additional guidance, where not available from other sources, was specifically developed for
this Manual.

c.

Terminology
Certain interchangeable terms will be used throughout this Manual. For clarity, they are
defined as follows:
Inclusion is a generic term that encompasses all man-made elements incorporated in the soil
to improve its behavior. Examples of inclusions are steel strips, geotextile sheets, steel or
polymeric grids, steel nails, and steel tendons between anchorage elements. The term
reinforcement is used only for those inclusions where soil-inclusion stress transfer occurs
continuously along the inclusion.
Mechanically Stabilized Earth Wall (MSEW) is a generic term that includes reinforced
soil (a term used when multiple layers of inclusions act as reinforcement in soils placed as
fill). Reinforced Earth is a trademark for a specific reinforced soil system.
-2-

Reinforced Soil Slopes (RSS) are a form of reinforced soil that incorporate planar
reinforcing elements in constructed earth-sloped structures with face inclinations of less than
70 degrees.
Geosynthetics is a generic term that encompasses flexible polymeric materials used in
geotechnical engineering such as geotextiles, geomembranes, geonets, and grids (also known
as geogrids).
Facing is a component of the reinforced soil system used to prevent the soil from raveling
out between the rows of reinforcement. Common facings include precast concrete panels,
dry cast modular blocks, metal sheets and plates, gabions, welded wire mesh, shotcrete, wood
lagging and panels, and wrapped sheets of geosynthetics. The facing also plays a minor
structural role in the stability of the structure. For RSS structures it usually consists of some
type of erosion control material.
Retained backfill is the fill material located between the mechanically stabilized soil mass
and the natural soil.
Reinforced backfill is the fill material in which the reinforcements are placed.
Generic cross sections of a mechanically stabilized soil mass in its geotechnical environment is
shown in figures 1 and 4.

Figure 1.

Generic cross section of a MSE structure.


-3-

1.2

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT

Retaining structures are essential elements of every highway design. Retaining structures are used
not only for bridge abutments and wing walls but also for slope stabilization and to minimize rightof-way for embankments. For many years, retaining structures were almost exclusively made of
reinforced concrete and were designed as gravity or cantilever walls which are essentially rigid
structures and cannot accommodate significant differential settlements unless founded on deep
foundations. With increasing height of soil to be retained and poor subsoil conditions, the cost of
reinforced concrete retaining walls increases rapidly.
Mechanically Stabilized Earth Walls (MSEW) and Reinforced Soil Slopes (RSS) are cost-effective
soil-retaining structures that can tolerate much larger settlements than reinforced concrete walls. By
placing tensile reinforcing elements (inclusions) in the soil, the strength of the soil can be improved
significantly such that the vertical face of the soil/reinforcement system is essentially self supporting.
Use of a facing system to prevent soil raveling between the reinforcing elements allows very steep
slopes and vertical walls to be constructed safely. In some cases, the inclusions can also withstand
bending from shear stresses, providing additional stability to the system.
Inclusions have been used since prehistoric times to improve soil. The use of straw to improve the
quality of adobe bricks dates back to earliest human history. Many primitive people used sticks and
branches to reinforce mud dwellings. During the 17th and 18th centuries, French settlers along the
Bay of Fundy in Canada used sticks to reinforce mud dikes. Some other early examples of manmade soil reinforcement include dikes of earth and tree branches, which have been used in China for
at least 1,000 years and along the Mississippi River in the 1880s. Other examples include wooden
pegs used for erosion and landslide control in England, and bamboo or wire mesh, used universally
for revetment erosion control. Soil reinforcing can also be achieved by using plant roots.
The modern methods of soil reinforcement for retaining wall construction were pioneered by the
French architect and engineer Henri Vidal in the early 1960s. His research led to the invention and
development of Reinforced Earth, a system in which steel strip reinforcement is used. The first
wall to use this technology in the United States was built in 1972 on California State Highway 39,
northeast of Los Angeles. In the last 25 years, more than 23,000 Reinforced Earth structures
representing over 70 million m2 (750 million ft2 ) of wall facing have been completed in 37 countries.
More than 8,000 walls have been built in the United States since 1972. The highest wall constructed
in the United States was on the order of 30 meters (98 feet).
Since the introduction of Reinforced Earth, several other proprietary and nonproprietary systems
have been developed and used. Table 1 provides a partial summary of some of the current systems
by proprietary name, reinforcement type, and facing system.
Currently, most process patents covering soil-reinforced system construction or components have
expired, leading to a proliferation of available systems or components that can be separately
purchased and assembled by the erecting contractor. The remaining patents in force generally
cover only the method of connection between the reinforcement and the facing.

-4-

For the first 20 years of use in the United States an articulating precast facing unit 2 to 2.25 m2 (21
to 24 ft2 ) generally square in shape, was the facing unit of choice. More recently, larger precast units
of up to 5 m2 (54 ft2 ) have been used as have much smaller dry-cast units, generally in conjunction
with geosynthetic reinforcements.
The use of geotextiles in MSE walls and RSS started after the beneficial effect of reinforcement with
geotextiles was noticed in highway embankments over weak subgrades. The first geotextilereinforced wall was constructed in France in 1971, and the first structure of this type in the United
States was constructed in 1974. Since about 1980, the use of geotextiles in reinforced soil has
increased significantly.
Geogrids for soil reinforcement were developed around 1980. The first use of geogrid in earth
reinforcement was in 1981. Extensive use of geogrid products in the United States started in about
1983, and they now comprise a growing portion of the market.
The first reported use of reinforced steepened slopes is believed to be the west embankment for the
great wall of China. The introduction and economy of geosynthetic reinforcements has made the use
of steepened slopes economically attractive. A survey of usage in the mid 1980s identified several
hundred completed projects. At least an order of magnitude more RSS structures have been
constructed since that study. The highest constructed RSS structure in the U.S. to date has been 43
m (141 ft).
A representative list of geosynthetic manufacturers and suppliers is shown in table 2.
Current Usage
It is believed that MSE walls have been constructed in every State in the United States. Major
users include transportation agencies in Georgia, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, and
California, which rank among the largest road building States.
It is estimated that more than 700,000 m2 (7,500,000 ft 2 ) of MSE retaining walls with precast facing
are constructed on average every year in the United States, which may represent more than half of
all retaining wall usage for transportation applications.
The majority of the MSE walls for permanent applications either constructed to date or presently
planned use a segmental precast concrete facing and galvanized steel reinforcements. The use of
geotextile faced MSE walls in permanent construction has been limited to date. They are quite
useful for temporary construction, where more extensive use has been made.
Recently, modular block dry cast facing units have gained acceptance due to their lower cost and
nationwide availability. These small concrete units are generally mated with grid reinforcement, and
the wall system is referred to as modular block wall (MBW). It has been reported that more than
200,000 m2 (2,000,000 ft 2 ) of MBW walls have been constructed yearly in the United States when
considering all types of transportation related applications. The current yearly usage for
transportation-related applications is estimated at about 50 projects per year.

-5-

The use of RSS structures has expanded dramatically in the last decade, and it is estimated that
several hundred RSS structures have been constructed in the United States. Currently, 70 to 100
RSS projects are being constructed yearly in connection with transportation related projects in the
United States, with an estimated projected vertical face area of 130,000 m2 /year (1,400,000 ft 2 /yr).
Table 1. Summary of reinforcement and face panel details for selected MSE wall systems.
System Name

Reinforcement Detail

Typical Face Panel Detail1

Reinforced Earth
The Reinforced Earth Company
2010 Corporate Ridge
McLean, VA 22102

Galvanized Ribbed Steel Strips: 4 mm


thick, 50 mm wide. Epoxy-coated
strips also available.

Facing panels are cruciform shaped


precast concrete 1.5 x 1.5 m x 140
mm thick. Half size panels used at
top and bottom.

Retained Earth
Foster Geotechnical
1600 Hotel Circle North
San Diego, CA 92108-2803

Rectangular grid of W11 or W20 plain


steel bars, 610 x 150 mm grid. Each
mesh may have 4, 5 or 6 longitudinal
bars. Epoxy-coated meshes also
available.

Hexagonal and square precast


concrete 1.5 x 1.5 m x 140 mm thick.
Half size panels used at top and
bottom.

Mechanically Stabilized Embankment


Dept. of Transportation,
Division of Engineering Services
5900 Folsom Blvd.
P.O. Box 19128
Sacramento, CA 95819

Rectangular grid, nine 9.5 mm


diameter plain steel bars on 610 x 150
mm grid. Two bar mats per panel
(connected to the panel at four points).

Precast concrete; rectangular 3.81 m


long, 610 mm high, 200 mm thick.

ARES
Tensar Earth Technologies
5883 Glenridge Drive, Suite 200
Atlanta, GA 30328

HDPE Geogrid

Precast concrete panel; rectangular


2.74 m wide, 1.52 m high, 140 mm
thick.

Welded Wire Wall


Hilfiker Retaining Walls
P.O. Drawer L
Eureka, CA 95501

Welded steel wire mesh, grid 50 x 150


mm of W4.5 x W3.5, W9.5 x W4,
W9.5 x W4, and W12 x W5 in 2.43 m
wide mats.

Welded steel wire mesh, wrap around


with additional backing mat 6.35 mm
wire screen at the soil face (with
geotextile or shotcrete, if desired).

Reinforced Soil Embankment


Hilfiker Retaining Walls,
P.O. Drawer L
Eureka, CA 95501

15 cm x 61 cm welded wire mesh:


W9.5 to W20 - 8.8 to 12.8 mm
diameter.

Precast concrete unit 3.8 m long, 610


mm high.

ISOGRID
Neel Co.
6520 Deepford Street
Springfield, VA 22150

Rectangular grid of W11 x W11


4 bars per grid

Diamond shaped precast concrete


units, 1.5 by 2.5 m, 140 mm thick.

MESA
Tensar Earth Technologies, Inc.
5883 Glenridge Drive, Suite 200
Atlanta, GA 30328

HDPE Geogrid

MESA HP (high performance), DOT 3


OR Standard units (203 mm high by
457 mm long face, 275 mm nominal
depth). (dry cast concrete)

PYRAMID
The Reinforced Earth Company
2010 Corporate Ridge
McLean, VA 22102

Galvanized WWM, size varies with


design requirements or Grid of PVC
coated, Polyester yarn (Matrex
Geogrid)

Pyramid unit (200 mm high by 400


mm long face, 250 mm nominal
depth) (dry cast concrete)

Maccaferri Terramesh System


Maccaferri Gabions, Inc.
43A Governor Lane Blvd.
Williamsport, MD 21795

Continuous sheets of galvanized


double twisted woven wire mesh with
PVC coating.

Rock filled gabion baskets laced to


reinforcement.

Strengthened Earth
Gifford-Hill & Co.
2515 McKinney Ave.
Dallas, Texas 75201

Rectangular grid, W7, W9.5 and W14,


transverse bars at 230 and 450 mm.

Precast concrete units, rectangular or


wing shaped 1.82 m x 2.13 m x 140
mm.

MSE Plus
SSL
4740 Scotts Valley Drive
Scotts Valley, CA 95066

Rectangular grid with W11 to W24


longitudinal bars and W11 transverse.
Mesh may have 4 to 6 longitudinal
bars spaced at 200 mm.

Rectangular precast concrete panels


1.5 m high, 1.82 m wide with a
thickness of 152 or 178 mm

KeySystem - Inextensible
Keystone Retaining Wall Systems
4444 W. 78th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55435

Galvanized welded wire ladder mat of


W7.5 to W17 bars with crossbars at
150 mm to 600 mm

KeySystem concrete facing unit is 203


mm high x 457 mm wide x 305 mm
deep (dry cast concrete)

-6-

Table 1. Summary of reinforcement and face panel details for selected MSE wall systems
(cont).
System Name

Reinforcement Detail

Typical Face Panel Detail1

KeySystem - Extensible
Keystone Retaining Wall Systems
4444 W. 78th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55435

Stratagrid high tenacity knit polyester


geogrid soil reinforcement by Strata
Systems, Inc. PVC coated

Keystone Standard and Compac


concrete facing units are 203 mm high
x 457 mm wide x 457 mm or 305 mm
deep (dry cast concrete)

Versa-Lok Retaining Wall Systems


6348 Highway 36 Blvd.
Oakdale, MN 55128

PVC coated PET or HDPE geogrids

Versa-Lok concrete unit 152 mm high


x 406 mm long x 305 mm deep (dry
cast concrete)

Anchor Wall Systems


5959 Baker Road
Minnetonka, MN 55345

PVC coated PET geogrid

Anchor Vertica concrete unit 200 mm


high x 450 mm long x 300 mm deep
and Anchor Vertica Pro which is 500
mm deep (dry cast concrete)

Additional facing types are possible with most systems.

Table 2. Representative list of Geotextile and Geogrid manufacturers and suppliers.1

Amoco Fabrics and Fibers Co.


260 The Bluff
Austelle, GA 30168

BBA Nonwovens - Reemay, Inc.


70 Old Hickory Blvd.
Old Hickory, TN 37138

Carthage Mills
4243 Hunt Road
Cincinnati, OH 45242

Colbond Geosynthetics (Akzo)


95 Sand Hill Road
Enka, NC 28728

Contech Construction Products


1001 Grove Street
Middletown, OH 45044

Huesker, Inc.
11107 A S. Commerce Blvd.
Charlotte, NC 28241

LINQ Industrial Fabrics, Inc.


2550 West 5th North Street
Summerville, SC 29483

Luckenhaus North America


841 Main Street
Spartanburg, SC 29302

TC Mirafi
365 S. Holland Drive
Pendegrass, GA 30567

Nicolon Corporation
3500 Parkway Lane, Suite 500
Norcross, GA 30092

Strata Systems, Inc.


425 Trible Gap Road
Cummings, GA 30130

Synthetic Industries
Construction Products Division
4019 Industry Drive
Chattanooga, TN 37416

Tenax Corporation
4800 East Monument Street
Baltimore, MD 21205

Tensar Earth Technologies


5883 Glenridge Drive, Suite 200
Atlanta, GA 30328

TNS Advanced Technologies


681 Deyoung Road
Greer, SC 29651

List is from the Geosynthetic Materials Association membership list.

-7-

[ BLANK ]

-8-

CHAPTER 2
SYSTEMS AND PROJECT EVALUATION
This chapter initially describes available MSEW and RSS systems and components, their
application, advantages, disadvantages and relative costs.
Subsequently, it outlines required site and project evaluations leading to the establishment of site
specific project criteria and details typical construction sequence for MSEW and RSS construction.

2.1

APPLICATIONS

MSEW structures are cost-effective alternatives for most applications where reinforced concrete or
gravity type walls have traditionally been used to retain soil. These include bridge abutments and
wing walls as well as areas where the right-of-way is restricted, such that an embankment or
excavation with stable side slopes cannot be constructed. They are particularly suited to economical
construction in steep-sided terrain, in ground subject to slope instability, or in areas where foundation
soils are poor.
MSE walls offer significant technical and cost advantages over conventional reinforced concrete
retaining structures at sites with poor foundation conditions. In such cases, the elimination of costs
for foundation improvements such as piles and pile caps, that may be required for support of
conventional structures, have resulted in cost savings of greater than 50 percent on completed
projects.
Some additional successful uses of MSE walls include:
!

Temporary structures, which have been especially cost-effective for temporary detours
necessary for highway reconstruction projects.

Reinforced soil dikes, which have been used for containment structures for water and waste
impoundments around oil and liquid natural gas storage tanks. (The use of reinforced soil
containment dikes is economical and can also result in savings of land because a vertical face
can be used, which reduces construction time).

Dams and seawalls, including increasing the height of existing dams.

Bulk materials storage using sloped walls.

Representative uses of MSE walls for various applications are shown in figures 2 and 3.
Reinforced Soil Slopes, are cost-effective alternatives for new construction where the cost of fill,
right-of-way, and other considerations may make a steeper slope desirable. However, even if
-9-

foundation conditions are satisfactory, slopes may be unstable at the desired slope angle. Existing
slopes, natural or manmade, may also be unstable as is usually painfully obvious when they fail. As
shown in figure 4, multiple layers of reinforcement may be placed in the slope during construction
or reconstruction to reinforce the soil and provide increased slope stability. Reinforced slopes are
a form of mechanically stabilized earth that incorporate planar reinforcing elements in constructed
earth sloped structures with face inclinations of less than 70 degrees. Typically, geosynthetics are
used for reinforcement.
There are two primary purposes for using reinforcement in engineered slopes.
!

To increase the stability of the slope, particularly if a steeper than safe unreinforced slope is
desirable or after a failure has occurred as shown in figure 4a.

To provide improved compaction at the edges of a slope, thus decreasing the tendency for
surface sloughing as shown in figure 4b.

The principal purpose for using reinforcement is to construct an RSS embankment at an angle
steeper than could otherwise be safely constructed with the same soil. The increase in stability
allows for construction of steepened slopes on firm foundations for new highways and as
replacements for flatter unreinforced slopes and retaining walls. Roadways can also be widened over
existing flatter slopes without encroaching on existing right-of-ways. In the case of repairing a slope
failure, the new slope will be safer, and reusing the slide debris rather than importing higher quality
backfill may result in substantial cost savings. These applications are illustrated in figure 5.
The second purpose for using reinforcement is at the edges of a compacted fill slope to provide
lateral resistance during compaction. The increased lateral resistance allows for an increase in
compacted soil density over that normally achieved and provides increased lateral confinement for
the soil at the face. Even modest amounts of reinforcement in compacted slopes have been found
to prevent sloughing and reduce slope erosion. Edge reinforcement also allows compaction
equipment to more safely operate near the edge of the slope.
Further compaction improvements have been found in cohesive soils through the use of
geosynthetics with in-plane drainage capabilities (e.g., nonwoven geotextiles) that allow for rapid
pore pressure dissipation in the compacted soil.
Compaction aids placed as intermediate layers between reinforcement in steepened slopes may also
be used to provide improved face stability and to reduce layers of more expensive primary
reinforcement as shown in figure 4a.

-10-

Figure 2.

MSE walls, urban applications.

-11-

Figure 3.

MSE wall applications, abutments, and marine.

-12-

Figure 4.

Slope reinforcement using geosynthetics to provide slope stability.

-13-

Figure 5.

Application of reinforced soil slopes.

Other applications of reinforced slopes have included:


!

Upstream/downstream face improvements to increased height of dams.

Permanent levees.

Temporary flood control structures.

Decreased bridge spans.

Temporary road widening for detours.

Prevention of surface sloughing during periods of saturation.

Embankment construction with wet, fine-grained soils.

-14-

2.2

ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES

a.

Advantages of Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) Walls


MSE walls have many advantages compared with conventional reinforced concrete and
concrete gravity retaining walls. MSE walls:
!

Use simple and rapid construction procedures and do not require large construction
equipment.

Do not require experienced craftsmen with special skills for construction.

Require less site preparation than other alternatives.

Need less space in front of the structure for construction operations.

Reduce right-of-way acquisition.

Do not need rigid, unyielding foundation support because MSE structures are tolerant
to deformations.

Are cost effective.

Are technically feasible to heights in excess of 25 m (80 ft).

The relatively small quantities of manufactured materials required, rapid construction, and,
competition among the developers of different proprietary systems has resulted in a cost
reduction relative to traditional types of retaining walls. MSE walls are likely to be more
economical than other wall systems for walls higher than about 3 m (10 ft) or where special
foundations would be required for a conventional wall.
One of the greatest advantages of MSE walls is their flexibility and capability to absorb
deformations due to poor subsoil conditions in the foundations. Also, based on observations
in seismically active zones, these structures have demonstrated a higher resistance to seismic
loading than have rigid concrete structures.
Precast concrete facing elements for MSE walls can be made with various shapes and
textures (with little extra cost) for aesthetic considerations. Masonry units, timber, and
gabions also can be used with advantage to blend in the environment.
b.

Advantages of Reinforced Soil Slopes (RSS)


The economic advantages of constructing a safe, steeper RSS than would normally be
possible are the resulting material and rights-of-way savings. It also may be possible to
decrease the quality of materials required for construction. For example, in repair of
landslides it is possible to reuse the slide debris rather than to import higher quality backfill.
-15-

Right-of-way savings can be a substantial benefit, especially for road widening projects in
urban areas where acquiring new right-of-way is always expensive and, in some cases,
unobtainable. RSS also provide an economical alternative to retaining walls. In some cases,
reinforced slopes can be constructed at about one-half the cost of MSEW structures.
The use of vegetated-faced reinforced soil slopes that can be landscaped to blend with natural
environments may also provide an aesthetic advantage over retaining wall type structures.
However, there are some potential maintenance issues that must be addressed such as
mowing grass-faced steep slopes, however, these can be satisfactorily handled in design.
In terms of performance, due to inherent conservatism in the design of RSS, they are actually
safer than flatter slopes designed at the same factor of safety. As a result, there is a lower
risk of long-term stability problems developing in the slopes. Such problems often occur in
compacted fill slopes that have been constructed to low factors of safety and/or with marginal
materials (e.g. deleterious soils such as shale, fine grained low cohesive silts, plastic soils,
etc.). The reinforcement may also facilitate strength gains in the soil over time from soil
aging and through improved drainage, further improving long-term performance.
c.

Disadvantages
The following general disadvantages may be associated with all soil reinforced structures:
!

Require a relatively large space behind the wall or outward face to obtain enough
wall width for internal and external stability.

MSEW require select granular fill. (At sites where there is a lack of granular soils,
the cost of importing suitable fill material may render the system uneconomical).
Requirements for RSS are typically less restrictive.

Suitable design criteria are required to address corrosion of steel reinforcing


elements, deterioration of certain types of exposed facing elements such as
geosynthetics by ultra violet rays, and potential degradation of polymer reinforcement
in the ground.

Since design and construction practice of all reinforced systems are still evolving,
specifications and contracting practices have not been fully standardized, especially
for RSS.

The design of soil-reinforced systems often requires a shared design responsibility


between material suppliers and owners and greater input from agencies geotechnical
specialists in a domain often dominated by structural engineers.

-16-

2.3

RELATIVE COSTS

Site specific costs of a soil-reinforced structure are a function of many factors, including cut-fill
requirements, wall/slope size and type, in-situ soil type, available backfill materials, facing finish,
temporary or permanent application. It has been found that MSE walls with precast concrete facings
are usually less expensive than reinforced concrete retaining walls for heights greater than about 3
m (10 ft) and average foundation conditions. Modular block walls (MBW) are competitive with
concrete walls at heights of less than 4.5 m (15 ft).
In general, the use of MSE walls results in savings on the order of 25 to 50 percent and possibly
more in comparison with a conventional reinforced concrete retaining structure, especially when the
latter is supported on a deep foundation system (poor foundation condition). A substantial savings
is obtained by elimination of the deep foundations, which is usually possible because reinforced soil
structures can accommodate relatively large total and differential settlements. Other cost saving
features include ease of construction and speed of construction. A comparison of wall material and
erection costs for several reinforced soil retaining walls and other retaining wall systems, based on
a survey of state and federal transportation agencies, is shown in figure 6. Typical total costs for
MSE walls range from $200 to $400 per m2 ($19 to $37 per ft2) of face, generally as function of
height, size of project and cost of select fill.

Figure 6.

Cost comparison for retaining walls.(after 23)

-17-

The actual cost of a specific MSEW structure will depend on the cost of each of its principal
components. For segmental precast concrete faced structures, typical relative costs are:
!

Erection of panels and contractors profit - 20 to 30 percent of total cost.

Reinforcing materials - 20 to 30 percent of total cost.

Facing system - 25 to 30 percent of total cost.

Backfill materials including placement - 35 to 40 percent of total cost, where the fill is a
select granular fill from an off site borrow source.

The additional cost for panel architectural finish treatment ranges from $5 to $15 per m2 ($0.50 to
$1.50 per ft2) depending on the complexity of the finish. Traffic barrier costs average $550 per linear
meter ($170 per linear foot). In addition, consideration must be given to the cost of excavation
which may be somewhat greater than for other systems. MBW faced walls at heights less than 4.5
m (15 ft) are typically less expensive by 10 percent or more.
The economy of using RSS must be assessed on a case-by-case basis, where use is not dictated by
space constraints. For such cases, an appropriate benefit to cost ratio analysis should be carried out
to see if the steeper slope with the reinforcement is justified economically over the alternative flatter
slope with its increased right-of-way and materials costs, etc. It should be kept in mind that
guardrails or traffic barriers are often necessary for steeper embankment slopes and additional costs
such as erosion control systems for slope face protection must be considered.
With respect to economy, the factors to consider are as follows:
!

Cut or fill earthwork quantities.

Size of slope area.

Average height of slope area.

Angle of slope.

Cost of nonselect versus select backfills.

Temporary and permanent erosion protection requirements.

Cost and availability of right-of-way needed.

Complicated horizontal and vertical alignment changes.

Need for temporary excavation support systems.

Maintenance of traffic during construction.


-18-

Aesthetics.

Requirements for guardrails and traffic barriers.

The actual bid cost of a specific RSS structure depends on the cost of each of its principal
components. Based on limited data, typical relative costs are:
!

Reinforcement

45 to 65 percent of total cost

Backfill

30 to 45 percent of total cost

Face treatment

5 to 10 percent of total cost

High RSS structures have relatively higher reinforcement and lower backfill costs. Recent bid prices
suggest costs ranging from $110/m2 to $260/m2 ($10/ft2 to $24/ft2) as a function of height.
For applications in the 10 to 15 m (30 to 50 ft) height range bid costs of about $170/m2 ($16/ft2) have
been reported. These prices do not include safety features and drainage details.
Figure 7 provides a rapid, first-order assessment of cost items for comparing a flatter unreinforced
slope with a steeper reinforced slope.

V3:1 = V
V2:1 = bV
V1:1 = aV

V3:1 = L
V2:1 = bL
V1:1 = aL

COST:
3H:1V = VSOIL + LLAND + Guardrail* (?) + Hydroseeding (?)
2H:1V = bVSOIL + bLLAND + Guardrail + Erosion Control + High Maintenance
1H:1V = aVSOIL + aLLAND + Reinforcement + Guardrail + Erosion Control
* Include guardrail or traffic barrier cost if required.

Figure 7.

Cost evaluation of reinforced soil slopes.

-19-

2.4

DESCRIPTION OF MSE/RSS SYSTEMS

a.

Systems Differentiation
Since the expiration of the fundamental process and concrete facing panel patents obtained
by the Reinforced Earth Co. for MSEW systems and structures, the engineering community
has adopted a generic term Mechanically Stabilized Earth to describe this type of retaining
wall construction.
Trademarks, such as Reinforced Earth, Retained Earth, Genesis etc., describe systems
with some present or past proprietary features or unique components marketed by nationwide
commercial suppliers. Other trademark names appear yearly to differentiate systems
marketed by competing commercial entities that may include proprietary or novel
components or for special applications.
A system for either MSEW or RSS structures is defined as a complete supplied package that
includes design, specifications and all prefabricated materials of construction necessary for
the complete construction of a soil reinforced structure. Often technical assistance during
the planning and construction phase is also included. Components marketed by commercial
entities for integration by the owner in a coherent system are not classified as systems.

b.

Types of Systems
MSE/RSS systems can be described by the reinforcement geometry, stress transfer
mechanism, reinforcement material, extensibility of the reinforcement material, and the type
of facing and connections.
Reinforcement Geometry
Three types of reinforcement geometry can be considered:
!

Linear unidirectional. Strips, including smooth or ribbed steel strips, or coated


geosynthetic strips over a load-carrying fiber.

Composite unidirectional. Grids or bar mats characterized by grid spacing greater


than 150 mm (6 inches).

Planar bidirectional. Continuous sheets of geosynthetics, welded wire mesh, and


woven wire mesh. The mesh is characterized by element spacing of less than 150
mm (6 inches).

Reinforcement Material
Distinction can be made between the characteristics of metallic and nonmetallic
reinforcements:
-20-

Metallic reinforcements. Typically of mild steel. The steel is usually galvanized


or may be epoxy coated.

Nonmetallic reinforcements. Generally polymeric materials consisting of


polypropylene, polyethylene, or polyester.

The performance and durability considerations for these two classes of reinforcement vary
considerably and are detailed in the companion Corrosion/Degradation document.
Reinforcement Extensibility
There are two classes of extensibility:

c.

Inextensible. The deformation of the reinforcement at failure is much less than the
deformability of the soil.

Extensible. The deformation of the reinforcement at failure is comparable to or even


greater than the deformability of the soil.

Facing Systems
The types of facing elements used in the different MSE systems control their aesthetics
because they are the only visible parts of the completed structure. A wide range of finishes
and colors can be provided in the facing. In addition, the facing provides protection against
backfill sloughing and erosion, and provides in certain cases drainage paths. The type of
facing influences settlement tolerances. Major facing types are:
!

Segmental precast concrete panels summarized in table 1 and illustrated in figure


8. The precast concrete panels have a minimum thickness of 140 mm (5- inches)
and are of a cruciform, square, rectangular, diamond, or hexagonal geometry.
Temperature and tensile reinforcement are required but will vary with the size of the
panel. Vertically adjacent units are usually connected with shear pins.

Dry cast modular block wall (MBW) units. These are relatively small, squat
concrete units that have been specially designed and manufactured for retaining wall
applications. The mass of these units commonly ranges from 15 to 50 kg (30 to 110
lbs), with units of 35 to 50 kg (75 to 110 lbs) routinely used for highway projects.
Unit heights typically range from 100 to 200 mm (4 to 8 inches) for the various
manufacturers. Exposed face length usually varies from 200 to 450 mm (8 to 18
inches). Nominal width (dimension perpendicular to the wall face) of units
typically ranges between 200 and 600 mm (8 and 24 inches) . Units may be
manufactured solid or with cores. Full height cores are filled with aggregate during
erection. Units are normally dry-stacked (i.e. without mortar) and in a running bond
configuration. Vertically adjacent units may be connected with shear pins, lips, or
keys. They are referred to by trademarked names such as Keystone, Versa-Lok,
Allan etc. They are illustrated in figure 9.
-21-

Figure 8.

MSE wall surface treatments.


-22-

Figure 9.

Examples of commercially available MBW units (from NCMA Design


Manual for Segmental Retaining Walls).

-23-

Metallic Facings. The original Reinforced Earth system had facing elements of
galvanized steel sheet formed into half cylinders. Although precast concrete panels
are now commonly used in Reinforced Earth walls, metallic facings may be
appropriate in structures where difficult access or difficult handling requires lighter
facing elements.

Welded Wire Grids. Wire grid can be bent up at the front of the wall to form the
wall face. This type of facing is used in the Hilfiker, Tensar, and Reinforced Earth
wire retaining wall systems.

Gabion Facing. Gabions (rock-filled wire baskets) can be used as facing with
reinforcing elements consisting of welded wire mesh, welded bar-mats, geogrids,
geotextiles or the double-twisted woven mesh placed between or connected to the
gabion baskets.

Geosynthetic Facing. Various types of geotextile reinforcement are looped around


at the facing to form the exposed face of the retaining wall. These faces are
susceptible to ultraviolet light degradation, vandalism (e.g. target practice) and
damage due to fire. Alternately, a geosynthetic grid used for soil reinforcement can
be looped around to form the face of the completed retaining structure in a similar
manner to welded wire mesh and fabric facing. Vegetation can grow through the grid
structure and can provide both ultraviolet light protection for the geogrid and a
pleasing appearance.

Postconstruction Facing. For wrapped faced walls, the facing whether geotextile,
geogrid, or wire mesh can be attached after construction of the wall by shotcreting,
guniting, cast-in-place concrete or attaching prefabricated facing panels made of
concrete, wood, or other materials. This multi-staging facing approach adds cost but
is advantageous where significant settlement is anticipated.

Precast elements can be cast in several shapes and provided with facing textures to match
environmental requirements and blend aesthetically into the environment. Retaining
structures using precast concrete elements as the facings can have surface finishes similar to
any reinforced concrete structure.
Retaining structures with metal facings have the disadvantage of shorter life because of
corrosion, unless provision is made to compensate for it.
Facings using welded wire or gabions have the disadvantages of an uneven surface, exposed
backfill materials, more tendency for erosion of the retained soil, possible shorter life from
corrosion of the wires, and more susceptibility to vandalism. These disadvantages can, of
course, be countered by providing shotcrete or by hanging facing panels on the exposed face
and compensating for possible corrosion. The greatest advantages of such facings are low
cost, ease of installation, design flexibility, good drainage (depending on the type of backfill)
that provides increased stability, and possible treatment of the face for vegetative and other
architectural effects. The facing can easily be adapted and well-blended with natural country
-24-

environment. These facings, as well as geosynthetic wrapped facings, are especially


advantageous for construction of temporary or other structures with a short-term design life.
Dry cast segmental block MBW facings may raise some concerns as to durability in
aggressive freeze-thaw environments when produced with water absorption capacity
significantly higher than that of wet-cast concrete. Historical data provide little insight as
their usage history is less than two decades. Further, because the cement is not completely
hydrated during the dry cast process, (as is often evidenced by efflorescence on the surface
of units), a highly alkaline regime may establish itself at or near the face area, and may limit
the use of some geosynthetic products as reinforcements. Freeze-thaw durability is enhanced
for products produced at higher compressive strengths and low water absorption ratios. The
current specifications in Chapter 8 have been developed to address this issue.
The outward faces of slopes in RSS structures are usually vegetated if 1:1 or flatter. The
vegetation requirements vary by geographic and climatic conditions and are therefore, project
specific. Details are outlined in chapter 6, section 6.5.
d.

Reinforcement Types

Most, although not all systems using precast concrete panels use steel reinforcements which are
typically galvanized but may be epoxy coated. Two types of steel reinforcements are in current use:
59.

Steel strips. The currently commercially available strips are ribbed top and bottom, 50 mm
(2 inches) wide and 4 mm (5/32-inch) thick. Smooth strips 60 to 120 mm (2-d to 4-inch)
wide, 3 to 4 mm (c to 5/32-inch) thick have been used.

60.

Steel grids. Welded wire grid using 2 to 6 W7.5 to W24 longitudinal wire spaced at either
150 or 200 mm (6 or 8 inches). The transverse wire may vary from W11 to W20 and are
spaced based on design requirements from 230 to 600 mm (9 to 24 inches). Welded steel
wire mesh spaced at 50 by 50 mm (2 by 2-inch) of thinner wire has been used in conjunction
with a welded wire facing. Some MBW systems use steel grids with 2 longitudinal wires.

Most MBW systems use geosynthetic reinforcement, principally geogrids. The following types are
widely used and available:
1.

High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) geogrid. These are of uniaxial manufacture and are
available in up to 6 styles differing in strength.

2.

PVC coated polyester (PET) geogrid. Available from a number of manufacturers. They are
characterized by bundled high tenacity PET fibers in the longitudinal load carrying direction.
For longevity the PET is supplied as a high molecular weight fiber and is further
characterized by a low carboxyl end group number.

3.

Geotextiles. High strength geotextiles can be used principally in connection with reinforced
soil slope (RSS) construction. Both polyester (PET) and polypropylene (PP) geotextiles have
been used.
-25-

e.

Reinforced Backfill Materials


MSEW Structures
MSE walls require high quality backfill for durability, good drainage, constructability, and
good soil reinforcement interaction which can be obtained from well graded, granular
materials. Many MSE systems depend on friction between the reinforcing elements and the
soil. In such cases, a material with high friction characteristics is specified and required.
Some systems rely on passive pressure on reinforcing elements, and, in those cases, the
quality of backfill is still critical. These performance requirements generally eliminate soils
with high clay contents.
From a reinforcement capacity point of view, lower quality backfills could be used for
MSEW structures; however, a high quality granular backfill has the advantages of being free
draining, providing better durability for metallic reinforcement, and requiring less
reinforcement. There are also significant handling, placement and compaction advantages
in using granular soils. These include an increased rate of wall erection and improved
maintenance of wall alignment tolerances.
RSS Structures
Reinforced Soil Slopes are normally not constructed with rigid facing elements. Slopes
constructed with a flexible face can thus readily tolerate minor distortions that could result
from settlement, freezing and thawing, or wet-drying of the backfill. As a result, any soil
meeting the requirements for embankment construction could be used in a reinforced slope
system. However, a higher quality material offers less durability concerns for the
reinforcement, and is easier to handle, place and compact, which speeds up construction.

f.

Miscellaneous Materials of Construction


Walls using precast concrete panels require bearing pads in their horizontal joints that
provide some compressibility and movement between panels and preclude concrete to
concrete contact. These materials are either neoprene, SBR rubber or HDPE.
All joints are covered with a polypropylene (PP) geotextile strip to prevent the migration of
fines from the backfill. The compressibility of the horizontal joint material should be a
function of the wall height. Walls with heights greater than 15 m (50 ft) may require thicker
or more compressible joints to accommodate the larger vertical loads due to the weight of
panels in the lower third of the structure.

-26-

2.5

SITE EVALUATION

a.

Site Exploration
The feasibility of using an MSEW, RSS or any other type of earth retention system depends
on the existing topography, subsurface conditions, and soil/rock properties. It is necessary
to perform a comprehensive subsurface exploration program to evaluate site stability,
settlement potential, need for drainage, etc., before repairing a slope or designing a new
retaining wall or bridge abutment.
Subsurface investigations are required not only in the area of the construction but also behind
and in front of the structure to assess overall performance behavior. The subsurface
exploration program should be oriented not only towards obtaining all the information that
could influence the design and stability of the final structure, but also to the conditions which
prevail throughout the construction of the structure, such as the stability of construction
slopes that may be required.
The engineer's concerns include the bearing capacity of the foundation materials, the
allowable deformations, and the stability of the structure. Necessary parameters for these
analyses must be obtained.
The cost of a reinforced soil structure is greatly dependent on the availability of the required
type of backfill materials. Therefore, investigations must be conducted to locate and test
locally available materials which may be used for backfill with the selected system.

b.

Field Reconnaissance
Preliminary subsurface investigation or reconnaissance should consist of collecting any
existing data relating to subsurface conditions and making a field visit to obtain data on:
!

Limits and intervals for topographic cross sections.

Access conditions for work forces and equipment.

Surface drainage patterns, seepage, and vegetation characteristics.

Surface geologic features, including rock outcrops and landforms, and existing cuts
or excavations that may provide information on subsurface conditions.

The extent, nature, and locations of existing or proposed below-grade utilities and
substructures that may have an impact on the exploration or subsequent construction.

Available right-of-way.

Areas of potential instability such as deep deposits of weak cohesive and organic
soils, slide debris, high groundwater table, bedrock outcrops, etc.
-27-

Reconnaissance should be performed by a geotechnical engineer or by an engineering


geologist. Before the start of field exploration, any data available from previous subsurface
investigations and those which can be inferred from geologic maps of the area should be
studied. Topographic maps and aerial photographs, if available, should be studied. Much
useful information of this type is available from the U.S. Geological Survey, the Soil
Conservation Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local planning boards or
county offices.
c.

Subsurface Exploration
The subsurface exploration program generally consists of soil soundings, borings, and test
pits. The type and extent of the exploration should be decided after review of the preliminary
data obtained from the field reconnaissance, and in consultation with a geotechnical engineer
or an engineering geologist. The exploration must be sufficient to evaluate the geologic and
subsurface profile in the area of construction. For guidance on the extent and type of
required investigation, the 1988 AASHTO "Manual on Foundation Investigations", should
be reviewed.
The following minimum guidelines are recommended for the subsurface exploration for
potential MSE applications:
!

Soil borings should be performed at intervals of:


- 30 m (100 ft) along the alignment of the soil-reinforced structure
- 45 m (150 ft) along the back of the reinforced soil structure
The width of the MSE wall or slope structure may be assumed as 0.8 times the
anticipated height.

The boring depth should be controlled by the general subsurface conditions. Where
bedrock is encountered within a reasonable depth, rock cores should be obtained for
a length of about 3 m (10 ft). This coring will be useful to distinguish between solid
rock and boulders. Deeper coring may be necessary to better characterize rock slopes
behind new retaining structures. In areas of soil profile, the borings should extend
at least to a depth equal to twice the height of the wall/slope. If subsoil conditions
within this depth are found to be weak and unsuitable for the anticipated pressures
from the structure height, then the borings must be extended until reasonably strong
soils are encountered.

In each boring, soil samples should be obtained at 1.5-m depth intervals and at
changes in strata for visual identification, classification, and laboratory testing.
Methods of sampling may follow AASHTO T 206 or AASHTO T 207 (Standard
Penetration Test and Thin-Walled Shelby Tube Sampling, respectively), depending
-28-

on the type of soil. In granular soils, the Standard Penetration Test can be used to
obtain disturbed samples. In cohesive soils, undisturbed samples should be obtained
by thin-walled sampling procedures. In each boring, careful observation should be
made for the prevailing water table, which should be observed not only at the time
of sampling but also at later times to obtain a good record of prevailing water table
conditions. If necessary, piezometers should be installed in a few borings to observe
long-term water levels.
!

Both the Standard Penetration Test and the Cone Penetration Test, ASTM D- 3441,
provide data on the strengths and density of soils. In some situations, it may be
desirable to perform in situ tests using a dilatometer, pressuremeter, or similar means
to determine soil modulus values.

Adequate bulk samples of available soils should be obtained and evaluated as


indicted in the following testing section to determine the suitability of the soil for use
as backfill in the MSE structures. Such materials should be obtained from all areas
from which preliminary reconnaissance indicates that borrow materials will be used.

Test-pit explorations should be performed in areas showing instability or to explore


further availability of the borrow materials for backfill. The locations and number
of test pits should be decided for each specific site, based on the preliminary
reconnaissance data.

The development and implementation of an adequate subsurface investigation program is a


key element for ensuring successful project implementation. Causes for distress experienced
in projects are often traced to inadequate subsurface exploration programs, that did not
disclose local or significant areas of soft soils, causing significant local differential settlement
and distress to the facing panels. In a few documented extreme cases, such foundation
weakness caused complete foundation failures leading to catastrophic collapses. Where the
select backfill is to be obtained from on-site sources, the extent and quality must be fully
explored to minimize contractor claims for changed conditions.
d.

Laboratory Testing
Soil samples should be visually examined and appropriate tests performed for classification
according to the Unified Soil Classification System (ASTM D 2488-69). These tests permit
the engineer to decide what further field or laboratory tests will best describe the engineering
behavior of the soil at a given project site. Index testing includes determination of moisture
content, Atterberg limits, compressive strength, and gradation. The dry unit weight of
representative undisturbed samples should also be determined.
Shear strength determination by unconfined compression tests, direct shear tests, or triaxial
compression tests will be needed for external stability analyses of MSE walls and slopes.
At sites where compressible cohesive soils are encountered below the foundations of the
MSE structure, it is necessary to perform consolidation tests to obtain parameters for making

-29-

settlement analyses. Both undrained and drained (effective stress) parameters should be
obtained for cohesive soils, to permit evaluation of both long-term and short-term conditions.
Of particular significance in the evaluation of any material for possible use as backfill are the
grain size distribution and plasticity. The effective particle size (D10) can be used to estimate
the permeability of cohesionless materials. Laboratory permeability tests may also be
performed on representative samples compacted to the specified density. Additional testing
should include direct shear tests on a few similarly prepared samples to determine shear
strength parameters under long and short-term conditions. The compaction behavior of
potential backfill materials should be investigated by performing laboratory compaction tests
according to AASHTO T 99 or T 180.
Properties to indicate the potential aggressiveness of the backfill material and the in-situ soils
behind the reinforced soil zone must be measured. Tests include:
!

pH.

Electrical resistivity.

Salt content including sulfate, sulfides, and chlorides.

The test results will provide necessary information for planning degradation protection
measures and will help in the selection of reinforcement elements with adequate durability.

2.6

PROJECT EVALUATION

a.

Structure Selection Factors


The major factors that influence the selection of an MSE/RSS alternative for any project
include:
!

Geologic and topographic conditions.

Environmental conditions.

Size and nature of the structure.

Aesthetics.

Durability considerations.

Performance criteria.

Availability of materials.

-30-

Experience with a particular system or application.

Cost.

Many MSEW systems have proprietary features. Some companies provide services
including design assistance, preparation of plans and specifications for the structure, supply
of the manufactured wall components, and construction assistance.
The various wall systems have different performance histories, and this sometimes creates
difficulty in adequate technical evaluation. Some systems are more suitable for permanent
walls, others are more suitable for low walls, and some are applicable for remote areas while
others are more suited for urban areas. The selection of the most appropriate system will
thus depend on the specific project requirements.
RSS embankments have been constructed with a variety of geosynthetic reinforcements and
treatments of the outward face. These factors again may create an initial difficulty in
adequate technical evaluation. A number of geosynthetic reinforcement suppliers provide
design services as well as technical assistance during construction.
Specific technical issues focused on selection factors are summarized in the following
sections.
b.

Geologic and Topographic Conditions


MSE structures are particularly well-suited where a "fill type" wall must be constructed or
where side-hill fills are indicated. Under these latter conditions, the volume of excavation
may be small, and the general economy of this type of construction is not jeopardized.
The adequacy of the foundation to support the fill weight must be determined as a first- order
feasibility evaluation.
Where soft compressible soils are encountered, preliminary stability analyses must be made
to determine if sufficient shear strength is available to support the weight of the reinforced
fill. As a rough first approximation for vertically faced MSE structures, the available shear
strength must be equal to at least 2.0 to 2.5 times the weight of the fill structure. For RSS
embankments the required foundation strength is somewhat less and dependent on the actual
slope considered.
Where these conditions are not satisfied, ground improvement techniques must be considered
to increase the bearing capacity at the foundation level. These techniques include but are not
limited to:
!

Excavation and removal of soft soils and replacement with a compacted structural
fill.

Use of lightweight fill materials.


-31-

In situ densification by dynamic compaction or improvement by use of surcharging


with or without wick drains.

Construction of stone columns.

Where marginal to adequate foundation strength is available, preliminary settlement analyses


should be made to determine the potential for differential settlement, both longitudinally
along a proposed structure as well as transverse to the face. This second- order feasibility
evaluation is useful in determining the appropriate type of facing systems for MSE walls and
in planning appropriate construction staging to accommodate the settlement.
In general, concrete-faced MSE structures using discrete articulating panels can
accommodate maximum longitudinal differential settlements of about 1/100, without the
introduction of special sliding joints between panels. Full-height concrete panels are
considerably less tolerant and should not be considered where differential settlements are
anticipated.
The performance of reinforced soil slopes generally is not affected by differential
longitudinal settlements.
c.

Environmental Conditions
The primary environmental condition affecting reinforcement type selection and potential
performance of MSE structures is the aggressiveness of the in situ ground regime that can
cause deterioration to the reinforcement. Post construction changes must be considered
where de-icing salts or fertilizers are subsequently used.
For steel reinforcements, in situ regimes containing chloride and sulfate salts generally in
excess of 200 PPM accelerate the corrosive process as do acidic regimes characterized by a
pH of less than 5.(1) Alkaline regimes characterized by pH > 10 will cause accelerated loss
of galvanization. Under these conditions, bare steel reinforcements could be considered.
Certain in situ regimes have been identified as being potentially aggressive for geosynthetic
reinforcements. Polyester (PET) degrade in highly alkaline or acidic regimes. Polyolefins
appear to degrade only under certain highly acidic conditions.
For additional specific discussions on the potential degradability of reinforcements, refer to
the companion Corrosion/Degradation reference document and chapter 3, section 3.5.
A secondary environmental issue is site accessibility, which may dictate the nature and size
of the facing for MSEW construction. Sites with poor accessibility or remote locations may
lend themselves to lightweight facings such as metal skins; modular blocks (MBW) which
could be erected without heavy lifting equipment; or the use of geotextile or geogrid wrapped
facings and vegetative covers.

-32-

RSS construction with an organic vegetative cover must be carefully chosen to be consistent
with native perennial cover that would establish itself quickly and would thrive with
available site rainfall.
d.

Size and nature of structure


Theoretically there is no upper limit to the height of MSEW that can be constructed.
Structures in excess of 25 m (80 ft) have been successfully constructed with steel
reinforcements although such heights for transportation-related structures are rare. RSS
embankments have been constructed to greater heights.
Practical limits are often dictated by economy, available ROW, and the tensile strength of
commercially available soil reinforcing materials. For bridge abutments there is no
theoretical limit to the span length that can be supported, although the longer the span, the
greater is the area of footing necessary to support the beams. Since the bearing capacity in
the reinforced fill is usually limited to 200 kPa (4000 psf), a large abutment footing further
increases the span length, adding cost to the superstructure. This additional cost must be
balanced by the potential savings of the MSE alternate to a conventional abutment wall,
which would have a shorter span length. As an option in such cases, it might be economical
to consider support of the bridge beams on deep foundations, placed within the reinforced
fill zone.
The lower limit to height is usually dictated by economy. When used with traffic barriers,
low walls on good foundations of less than 3 to 4 meters are often uneconomical, as the cost
of the overturning moment leg of the traffic barrier approaches one-third of the total cost of
the MSE structure in place. For cantilever walls, the barrier is simply an extension of the
stem with a smaller impact on overall cost.
The total size of structure (square meters of face) has little impact on economy compared
with other retaining wall types. However, the unit cost for small projects of less than 300 m2
(3,000 ft2) is likely to be 10 to 15 percent higher.
RSS may be cost effective in rural environments, where ROW restrictions exist or on
widening projects where long sliver fills are necessary. In urban environments, they should
be considered where ROW is available, as they are always more economical than vertically
faced MSEW structures.

e.

Aesthetics
Precast concrete facing panels may be cast with an unlimited variety of texture and color for
an additional premium that seldom exceeds 15 percent of the facing cost, which on average
would mean a 4 to 6 percent increase on total in place cost.
Modular block wall facings are often comparable in cost to precast concrete panels except
on small projects (less than 400 m2 (4,000 ft2)) where the small size introduces savings in
erection equipment cost and the need to cast special, made-to-order concrete panels to fit
-33-

what is often irregular geometry. MBW facings may be manufactured in color and with a
wide variety of surface finishes.
The outward face treatment of RSS, generally is by vegetation, which is initially more
economical than the concrete facing used for MSE structures. However, maintenance costs
may be considerably higher, and the long-term performance of many outward face treatments
has not been established.
f.

Questionable Applications
The current AASHTO Interim Specifications for Highway Bridges, indicates that MSE walls
should not be used under the following conditions:

2.7

When utilities other than highway drainage must be constructed within the reinforced
zone where future access for repair would require the reinforcement layers to be cut.
A similar limitation should be considered for RSS structures.

With galvanized metallic reinforcements exposed to surface or ground water


contaminated by acid mine drainage or other industrial pollutants as indicted by low
pH and high chlorides and sulfates.

When floodplain erosion may undermine the reinforced fill zone, or where the depth
to scour cannot be reliably determined.

ESTABLISHMENT OF PROJECT CRITERIA

The engineer should consider each topic area presented in this section at a preliminary design stage
and determine appropriate elements and performance criteria.
The process consists of the following successive steps:
!

Consider all possible alternatives.

Choose a system (MSEW or RSS).

Consider facing options.

Develop performance criteria (Loads, design heights, embedment, settlement


tolerances, foundation capacity, effect on adjoining structures, etc.).

Consider effect of site on corrosion/degradation of reinforcements.

-34-

a.

Alternates
Cantilever, gravity, semi gravity or counterforted concrete walls or soil embankments are the
usual alternatives to MSE walls and abutments and RSS.
In cut situations, in situ walls such as tieback anchored walls, soil nailed walls or nongravity
cantilevered walls are often more economical, although where limited ROW is available, a
combination of a temporary in situ wall at the back end of the reinforcement and a permanent
MSE wall is often competitive.
For waterfront or marine wall applications, sheetpile walls with or without anchorages or
prefabricated concrete bin walls that can be constructed in the wet are often, if not always,
both more economical and more practical to construct.

b.

Facing Considerations
The development of project-specific aesthetic criteria is principally focused on the type, size,
and texture of the facing, which is the only visible feature of any MSE structure.
For permanent applications, considerations should be given to MSE walls with precast
concrete panels. They are constructed with a vertical face and cannot accommodate small,
uniform front batters. Currently, the size of panels commercially produced varies from 1.8
to 4.5 m2 (20 to 50 ft2). Full height panels may be considered for walls up to 4 to 5 m (13
to 16 ft) in height on foundations that are not expected to settle. The precast concrete panels
can be manufactured with a variety of surface textures and geometrics, as shown in figure
8.
MBW facings are available in a variety of shapes and textures as shown in figure 9. They
range in facial area from 0.05 to 0.1 m2 (0.5 to 1 ft2) An integral feature of this type of facing
is a front batter ranging from nominal to 15 degrees. Project geometric constraints, i.e., the
bottom of wall and top of wall horizontal limits, may limit the amount of permissible batter
and, thus, the types of MBW units that may be used. Note that the toe of these walls step
back as the foundation elevation steps up, due to the stacking arrangement and automatic
batter.
At more remote locations, gabion, timber faced, or vegetated MSE may be considered.
For temporary walls, significant economy can be achieved with geosynthetic wrapped facings
or wood board facing. They may be made permanent by applying gunite or cast-in-place
concrete in a postconstruction application.
For RSS structures, the choice of slope facing may be controlled by climatic and regional
factors. For structures of less than 10 m (33 ft) height with slopes of 1:1 or flatter, a
vegetative "green slope" can be usually constructed using an erosion control mat or mesh and
local grasses. Where vegetation cannot be successfully established and/or significant run-off

-35-

may occur, armored slopes using natural or manufactured materials may be the only choice
to reduce future maintenance. For additional guidance see chapter 6, section 6.5.
c.

Performance Criteria
Performance criteria for MSE structures with respect to design requirements are governed
by design practice or codes such as contained in Article 5.8 of 1996 AASHTO Specifications
for Highway Bridges. These requirements consider the required margins of safety with
respect to failure modes. They are equal for all types of MSEW structures. No specific
AASHTO guidance is presently available for RSS structures.
With respect to lateral wall displacements, no method is presently available to definitely
predict lateral displacements, most of which occur during construction. The horizontal
movements depend on compaction effects, reinforcement extensibility, reinforcement length,
reinforcement-to-panel connection details, and details of the facing system. A rough estimate
of probable lateral displacements of simple structures that may occur during construction can
be made based on the reinforcement length to wall-height ratio and reinforcement
extensibility as shown in figure 10.
This figure indicates that increasing the length-to-height ratio of reinforcements from its
theoretical lower limit of 0.5H to 0.7H, decreases the deformation by 50 percent. It further
suggests that the anticipated construction deformation of MSE structures constructed with
polymeric reinforcements (extensible) is approximately three times greater than if
constructed with metallic reinforcements (inextensible).
Performance criteria are both site and structure-dependent. Structure-dependent criteria
consist of safety factors or a consistent set of load and resistance factors as well as tolerable
movement criteria of the specific MSE structure selected.
Recommended minimum factors of safety with respect to failure modes are as follows:
!
External Stability
Sliding
:
F.S. $ 1.5 (MSEW); 1.3 (RSS)
Eccentricity e, at Base
:
# L/6 in soil L/4 in rock
Bearing Capacity
:
F.S. $ 2.5
Deep Seated Stability
:
F.S. $ 1.3
Compound Stability
:
F.S. $ 1.3
Seismic Stability
:
F.S. $ 75% of static F.S. (All failure modes)
!

Internal Stability
Pullout Resistance
Internal Stability for RSS
Allowable Tensile Strength
for steel strip reinforcement
for steel grid reinforcement:

:
:

for geosynthetic reinforcements


-36-

F.S. $ 1.5 (MSEW and RSS)


F.S $ 1.3

:
0.55 Fy
0.48 F y (connected to concrete panels or
blocks)
:
Ta - See design life, below

Figure 10.

Empirical curve for estimating probable anticipated lateral displacement


during construction for MSE walls (FHWA RD 89-043).

-37-

A number of site specific project criteria need to be established at the inception of design:
!

Design limits and wall height. The length and height required to meet project
geometric requirements must be established to determine the type of structure and
external loading configurations.

Alignment limits. The horizontal (perpendicular to wall face) limits of bottom and
top of wall alignment must be established as alignments vary with batter of wall
system. The alignment constraints may limit the type and maximum batter,
particularly with MBW units, of wall facing.

Length of reinforcement. A minimum reinforcement length of 0.7H is


recommended for MSE walls. Longer lengths are required for structures subject to
surcharge loads. Shorter lengths can be used in special situations.

External loads. The external loads may be soil surcharges required by the geometry,
adjoining footing loads, line loads as from traffic, and/or traffic impact loads. Traffic
line loads and impact loads are applicable where the traffic lane is located
horizontally from the face of the wall within a distance less than one half the wall
height. The magnitude of the minimum traffic loads outlined in Articles 3.20.3 and
5.8 of current AASHTO, is a uniform load equivalent to 0.6 m (2 ft) of soil over the
traffic lanes.

Wall embedment. The minimum embedment depth for walls from adjoining
finished grade to the top of the leveling pad should be based on bearing capacity,
settlement and stability considerations. Current practice based on local bearing
capacity considerations, recommends the following embedment depths:
Minimum to Top
of Leveling Pad

Slope in Front of Wall


horizontal (walls)
horizontal (abutments)
3H:1V
2H:1V
3H:2V

H/20
H/10
H/10
H/7
H/5

Larger values may be required, depending on depth of frost penetration, shrinkage


and swelling of foundation soils, seismic activity, and scour. Minimum in any case
is 0.5 m, except for structures founded on rock at the surface, where no embedment
may be used. Alternately, frost-susceptible soils could be overexcavated and
replaced with non frost susceptible backfill, hence reducing the overall wall height.

-38-

A minimum horizontal bench 1.2 m (4 ft) wide as measured from the face shall be
provided in front of walls founded on slopes.
For walls constructed along rivers and streams where the depth of scour has been
reliably determined, a minimum embedment of 0.6 m (2 ft) below this depth is
recommended.
Embedment is not required for RSS unless dictated by stability requirements.
!

Seismic Activity. Due to their flexibility, MSE wall and slope structures are quite
resistant to dynamic forces developed during a seismic event, as confirmed by the
excellent performance in several recent earthquakes.
The peak horizontal ground acceleration for each site can be obtained from Section
3 of AASHTO Division 1-A, Seismic Design. For sites where the Acceleration
Coefficient "A" in AASHTO is less or equal to 0.05, static design considerations
govern and dynamic performance or design requirements may be omitted.
For sites where the Acceleration Coefficient is greater than 0.29, significant total
lateral structure movements may occur, and a seismic design specialist should review
the stability and potential deformation for the structure. All sites where the "A"
coefficient is greater than 0.05 should be designed/checked for seismic stability. For
RSS structures, seismic analyses should be included regardless of acceleration.

Tolerance of precast facing panels to settlement. MSE structures have significant


deformation tolerance both longitudinally along a wall and perpendicular to the front
face. Therefore, poor foundation conditions seldom preclude their use. However,
where significant differential settlement are anticipated (greater than 1/100) sufficient
joint width and/or slip joints must be provided to preclude panel cracking. This
factor may influence the type and design of the facing panel selected.
Square panels generally adapt to larger longitudinal differential settlements better
than long rectangular panels of the same surface area. Guidance on minimum joint
width and limiting differential settlements that can be tolerated is presented in table
3, for panels with a surface area typically less than 4.5 m2 (50 ft2)
MSE walls constructed with full height panels should be limited to differential
settlements of 1/500. Walls with drycast facing (MBW) should be limited to
settlements of 1/200. For walls with welded wire facings, the limiting differential
settlement should be 1/50.
Where significant differential settlement perpendicular to the wall face is anticipated,
the reinforcement connection may be overstressed. Where the back of the reinforced
soil zone will settle more than the face, the reinforcement could be placed on a
sloping fill surface which is higher at the back end of the reinforcement to
compensate for the greater vertical settlement. This may be the case where a steep
-39-

Table 3.

Relationship between joint width and limiting differential


settlements for MSE precast panels.
Limiting Differential Settlement

Joint Width
20 mm
13 mm
6 mm

1/100
1/200
1/300

surcharge slope is constructed. This latter construction technique, however, requires


that surface drainage be carefully controlled after each day's construction.
Alternatively, where significant differential settlements are anticipated, ground
improvement techniques may be warranted to limit the settlements, as outlined in
geological conditions.
d.

Design Life
MSE walls shall be designed for a service life based on consideration of the potential longterm effects of material deterioration, seepage, stray currents and other potentially deleterious
environmental factors on each of the material components comprising the wall. For most
applications, permanent retaining walls should be designed for a minimum service life of 75
years. Retaining walls for temporary applications are typically designed for a service life of
36 months or less.
A greater level of safety and/or longer service life (i.e., 100 years) may be appropriate for
walls which support bridge abutments, buildings, critical utilities, or other facilities for which
the consequences of poor performance or failure would be severe.
The quality of in-service performance is an important consideration in the design of
permanent retaining walls. Permanent walls shall be designed to retain an aesthetically
pleasing appearance, and be essentially maintenance free throughout their design service life.
For RSS structures, similar minimum design life ranges should be adopted.

2.8

CONSTRUCTION SEQUENCE

The following is an outline of the principal sequence of construction for MSEW and RSS. Specific
systems, special appurtenances and specific project requirements may vary from the general
sequence indicated.

-40-

a.

Construction of MSEW systems with precast facings


The construction of MSEW systems with a precast facing is carried out as follows:
!
Preparation of subgrade. This step involves removal of unsuitable materials from
the area to be occupied by the retaining structure. All organic matter, vegetation,
slide debris and other unstable materials should be stripped off and the subgrade
compacted.
In unstable foundation areas, ground improvement methods, such as dynamic
compaction, stone columns, wick drains, or other foundation
stabilization/improvement methods would be constructed prior to wall erection.
!

Placement of a leveling pad for the erection of the facing elements. This
generally unreinforced concrete pad is often only 300 mm (1 ft) wide and 150 mm
(6 inches) thick and is used for MSEW construction only, where concrete panels are
subsequently erected. A gravel pad has been often substituted for MBW
construction.
The purpose of this pad is to serve as a guide for facing panel erection and is not
intended as a structural foundation support.

Erection of the first row of facing panels on the prepared leveling pad. Facings
may consist of either precast concrete panels, metal facing panels, or dry cast
modular blocks.
The first row of facing panels may be full, or half-height panels, depending upon the
type of facing used. The first tier of panels must be shored up to maintain stability
and alignment. For construction with modular dry-cast blocks, full sized blocks are
used throughout with no shoring.
The erection of facing panels and placement of the soil backfill proceed
simultaneously.

Placement and compaction of backfill on the subgrade to the level of the first
layer of reinforcement and its compaction. The fill should be compacted to the
specified density, usually 95 to 100 percent of AASHTO T-99 maximum density and
within the specified range of optimum moisture content. Compaction moisture
contents dry of optimum are recommended.
A key to good performance is consistent placement and compaction. Wall fill lift
thickness must be controlled based on specification requirements and vertical
distribution of reinforcement elements. The uniform loose lift thickness of the
reinforced backfill should not exceed 300 mm (12 inches). Reinforced backfill
should be dumped into or parallel to the rear and middle of the reinforcement and
bladed toward the front face. Random fill placement behind the reinforced volume
should proceed simultaneously.
-41-

Placement of the first layer of reinforcing elements on the backfill. The


reinforcements are placed and connected to the facing panels, when the compacted
fill has been brought up to the level of the connection they are generally placed
perpendicular to back of the facing panels. More detailed construction control
procedures associated with each construction step are outlined in chapter 9.

Placement of the backfill over the reinforcing elements to the level of the next
reinforcement layer and compaction of the backfill. The previously outlined steps
are repeated for each successive layer.

Construction of traffic barriers and copings. This final construction sequence is


undertaken after the final panels have been placed, and the backfill has been
completed to its final grade.

A complete sequence is illustrated in figures 11 through 13.


b.

Construction of MSE systems with Flexible Facings


Construction of flexible-faced MSE walls, where the reinforcing material also serves as
facing material, is similar to that for walls with precast facing elements. For flexible facing
types such as welded wire mesh, geotextiles, geogrids or gabions, the erection of the first
level facing element requires only a level grade. A concrete footing or leveling pad is not
usually required unless precast elements are to be attached to the system after construction.
Construction proceeds as outlined for segmental facings with the following exceptions:
!

Placement of first reinforcing layer. Reinforcement with anisotropic strength


properties (i.e., many geosynthetics) should be placed with the principal strength
direction perpendicular to face of structure. It is often convenient to unroll the
reinforcement with the roll or machine direction parallel to the face. If this is done,
then the cross machine tensile strength must be greater than the design tension
requirements.
Secure reinforcement with retaining pins to prevent movement during reinforced fill
placement.
Overlap adjacent sheets a minimum of 150 mm (6 inches) along the edges
perpendicular to the face. Alternatively, with geogrid or wire mesh reinforcement,
the edges may be butted and clipped or tied together.

-42-

Figure 11.

Erection of precast panels.

-43-

Figure 12.

Fill spreading and reinforcement connection.

-44-

Figure 13.

Compaction of backfill.

Face Construction. Place the geosynthetic layers using face forms as shown in
figure 14. For temporary support of forms at the face, form holders should be placed
at the base of each layer at 1.20 m ( 4 ft) horizontal intervals. Details of temporary
form work are shown in figure 15. These supports are essential for achieving good
compaction. When using geogrids or wire mesh, it may be necessary to use a
geotextile to retain the backfill material at the wall face.
When compacting backfill within 1 m (3 ft) of the wall face, a hand-operated
vibratory compactor is recommended.
The return-type method or successive layer tie method as shown in figure 15 can be
used for facing support. In the return method, the reinforcement is folded at the face
over the backfill material, with a minimum return length of 1.25 m (4 ft) to ensure
adequate pullout resistance. Consistency in face construction and compaction is
essential to produce a wrapped facing with satisfactory appearance.
Apply facing treatment (shotcrete, precast facing panels, etc.). Figure 16 shows some
alternative facing systems for flexible faced walls and slopes.
-45-

c.

RSS Construction
The construction of RSS embankments is considerably simpler and consists of many of the
elements outlined for MSEW construction. They are summarized as follows:
!

Site preparation.

Construct subsurface drainage (if indicated).

Place reinforcement layer.

Place and compact backfill on reinforcement.

Construct face.
construction.

Place additional reinforcement and backfill.

Construct surface drainage features.

Details of the available methods are outlined in chapter 6,

Key stages of construction are illustrated in figure 17, and the complete sequence is fully
outlined in Chapter 6.
2.9

PROPRIETARY ASPECTS

a.

Materials
The distinguishing characteristics of MSE trademarked systems from generic systems are
patented features or materials of construction.
At present the following significant components are known to be covered by unexpired
patents:

b.

Connection details between grid reinforcement and precast panel covered by a


number of patents issued to various suppliers. In general, these patents cover a
specific design for the concrete-embedded portion of connecting member only.

Most MBW facing units are covered by recent design patents.

Special Applications
A number of patents may be in force for specific MSE construction methods under water,
specific types of traffic barriers constructed over MSE walls, and facing attachments to
temporary facings.

-46-

Figure 14.

Lift construction sequence for geosynthetic faced MSE walls.

-47-

Figure 15.

Typical geosynthetic face construction detail.

-48-

Figure 16.

Types of geosynthetic reinforced soil wall facing.


-49-

Figure 17.

Reinforced slope construction; a) geogrid and fill replacement; b) soil fill


erosion control mat placement; and c) finished, vegetated 1:1 slope.

-50-

CHAPTER 3
SOIL REINFORCEMENT PRINCIPLES
AND SYSTEM DESIGN PROPERTIES
This chapter outlines the fundamental soil reinforcement principle that governs structure behavior,
and develops system design parameters which are used for specific MSEW and RSS design, detailed
in chapters 4, 5 and 7.
The objectives of this chapter are to develop:
!

An understanding of soil-reinforcement interaction.

Introduce normalized pullout capacity concepts.

Develop design soil parameters for select backfill, retained fill and foundation bearing
capacity.

Establish structural design properties.

3.1

OVERVIEW

As discussed in chapter 2, mechanically stabilized earth systems (MSEW and RSS) have three major
components: reinforcing elements, facing system, and reinforced backfill. Reinforcing elements may
be classified by stress/strain behavior and geometry. In terms of stress/strain behavior, reinforcing
elements may be considered inextensible (metallic) or extensible (polymeric). This division is not
strictly correct because some newer glass-fiber reinforced composites and ultra high modulus
polymers have moduli that approach that of mild steel. Likewise, certain metallic woven wire mesh
reinforcements, such as hexagon gabion material, will deform more than the soil at failure and are
thus considered extensible. Based on their geometric shapes, reinforcements can be categorized as
strips, grids or sheets. Facing elements, when employed, can be precast concrete panels or modular
blocks, gabions, welded wire mesh, cast-in-place concrete, timber, shotcrete, vegetation, or
geosynthetic material. Reinforced backfill refers to the soil material placed within the zone of
reinforcement. The retained soil refers to the material, placed or in situ, directly adjacent to the
reinforced backfill zone. The retained soil is the source of earth pressures that the reinforced mass
must resist. A drainage system below and behind the reinforced backfill is also an important
component especially when using poorly draining backfill.

3.2

REINFORCED SOIL CONCEPTS

A reinforced soil mass is somewhat analogous to reinforced concrete in that the mechanical
properties of the mass are improved by reinforcement placed parallel to the principal strain direction
-51-

to compensate for soil's lack of tensile resistance. The improved tensile properties are a result of the
interaction between the reinforcement and the soil. The composite material has the following
characteristics:
!

Stress transfer between the soil and reinforcement takes place continuously along the
reinforcement.

Reinforcements are distributed throughout the soil mass with a degree of regularity and must
not be localized.
Stress Transfer Mechanisms
Stresses are transferred between soil and reinforcement by friction (figure 18a) and/or
passive resistance (figure 18b) depending on reinforcement geometry:
Friction develops at locations where there is a relative shear displacement and corresponding
shear stress between soil and reinforcement surface. Reinforcing elements where friction is
important should be aligned with the direction of soil reinforcement relative movement.
Examples of such reinforcing elements are steel strips, longitudinal bars in grids, geotextile
and some geogrid layers.
Passive resistance occurs through the development of bearing type stresses on "transverse"
reinforcement surfaces normal to the direction of soil reinforcement relative movement.
Passive resistance is generally considered to be the primary interaction for rigid geogrids, bar
mat, and wire mesh reinforcements. The transverse ridges on "ribbed" strip reinforcement
also provide some passive resistance.
The contribution of each transfer mechanism for a particular reinforcement will depend on
the roughness of the surface (skin friction), normal effective stress, grid opening dimensions,
thickness of the transverse members, and elongation characteristics of the reinforcement.
Equally important for interaction development are the soil characteristics, including grain
size, grain size distribution, particle shape, density, water content, cohesion, and stiffness.
Mode of Reinforcement Action
The primary function of reinforcements is to restrain soil deformations. In so doing, stresses
are transferred from the soil to the reinforcement. These stresses are carried by the
reinforcement in two ways: in tension or in shear and bending.
Tension is the most common mode of action of tensile reinforcements. All "longitudinal"
reinforcing elements (i.e., reinforcing elements aligned in the direction of soil extension) are
generally subjected to high tensile stresses. Tensile stresses are also developed in flexible
reinforcements that cross shear planes.
Shear and Bending. "Transverse" reinforcing elements that have some rigidity, can
withstand shear stress and bending moments.
-52-

Figure 18.

Stress transfer mechanisms for soil reinforcement.

-53-

3.3

SOIL REINFORCEMENT INTERACTION USING NORMALIZED CONCEPTS


Soil-interaction (pullout capacity) coefficients have been developed by laboratory and field
studies, using a number of different approaches, methods, and evaluation criteria. A unified
normalized approach has been recently developed, and is detailed below.

a.

Evaluation of Pullout Performance


The design of the soil reinforcement system requires an evaluation of the long-term pullout
performance with respect to three basic criteria:
!

Pullout capacity, i.e., the pullout resistance of each reinforcement should be adequate
to resist the design working tensile force in the reinforcement with a specified factor
of safety.

Allowable displacement, i.e., the relative soil-to-reinforcement displacement required


to mobilize the design tensile force should be smaller than the allowable
displacement.

Long-term displacement, i.e., the pullout load should be smaller than the critical
creep load.

The pullout resistance of the reinforcement is mobilized through one or a combination of the
two basic soil-reinforcement interaction mechanisms, i.e., interface friction and passive soil
resistance against transverse elements of composite reinforcements such as bar mats, wire
meshes, or geogrids. The load transfer mechanisms mobilized by a specific reinforcement
depends primarily upon its structural geometry (i.e., composite reinforcement such as grids,
versus linear or planar elements, thickness of transverse elements, and aperture dimension).
The soil-to-reinforcement relative movement required to mobilize the design tensile force
depends mainly upon the load transfer mechanism, the extensibility of the reinforcement
material, the soil type, and confining pressure.
The long-term pullout performance (i.e., displacement under constant design load) is
predominantly controlled by the creep characteristics of the soil and the reinforcement
material. Soil reinforcement systems will generally not be used with cohesive soils
susceptible to creep. Therefore, creep is primarily an issue of the type of reinforcement.
Table 4 provides, for generic reinforcement types, the basic aspects of pullout performance
in terms of the main load transfer mechanism, relative soil-to-reinforcement displacement
required to fully mobilize the pullout resistance, and creep potential of the reinforcement in
granular (and low plasticity cohesive) soils.

-54-

Table 4.

Basic aspects of reinforcement pullout performance in granular


and cohesive soils of low plasticity.

Major Load
Transfer
Mechanism

Range of
Displacement
at Specimen
Front

Frictional
Frictional + passive

1.2 mm
12 mm

Noncreeping

Frictional

Dependent on
reinforcement
extensibility

Dependent on
reinforcement
structure and
polymer creep

Frictional

Dependent on
reinforcement
extensibility
(25 to 100 mm)

Dependent on
reinforcement
structure and
polymer creep
characteristics

bar mats

Passive + frictional

12 to 50 mm

Noncreeping

welded wire meshes

Frictional + passive

12 to 50 mm

Noncreeping

geogrids

Frictional +passive

Dependent on
extensibility
(25 to 50 mm)

Dependent on
reinforcement
structure and
polymer creep
characteristics

woven wire meshes

Frictional +passive

25 to 50 mm

Noncreeping

Generic Reinforcement
Type

Long Term
Deformation

Inextensible strips
smooth
ribbed
Extensible composite
plastic strips

Extensible sheets
geotextiles

Inextensible grids

Extensible grids

-55-

b.

Estimate of the Reinforcement Pullout Capacity in RSS and MSE Structures


The pullout resistance of the reinforcement is defined by the ultimate tensile load required
to generate outward sliding of the reinforcement through the reinforced soil mass. Several
approaches and design equations have been developed and are currently used to estimate the
pullout resistance by considering frictional resistance, passive resistance, or a combination
of both. The design equations use different interaction parameters, and it is, therefore,
difficult to compare the pullout performance of different reinforcements for a specific
application.
For design and comparison purposes, a normalized definition of pullout resistance will be
used throughout the manual. The pullout resistance, Pr, of the reinforcement per unit width
of reinforcement is given by:


P r  F  @ @ v @ L e @ C
where: Le " C

(1)

= the total surface area per unit width of the reinforcement in the
resistive zone behind the failure surface
Le

the embedment or adherence length in the resisting zone


behind the failure surface

the reinforcement effective unit perimeter; e.g., C = 2 for


strips, grids, and sheets

F*

the pullout resistance (or friction-bearing-interaction) factor

a scale effect correction factor to account for a non linear


stress reduction over the embedded length of highly
extensible reinforcements, based on laboratory data (generally
1.0 for metallic reinforcements and 0.6 to 1.0 for geosynthetic
reinforcements, see table 5).

the effective vertical stress at the soil-reinforcement


interfaces.

The correction factor depends, therefore, primarily upon the strain softening of the
compacted granular backfill material, the extensibility and the length of the reinforcement.
For inextensible reinforcement, is approximately 1, but it can be substantially smaller than
1 for extensible reinforcements. The factor (a scale correction factor) can be obtained from
pullout tests on reinforcements with different lengths as presented in appendix A or derived
using analytical or numerical load transfer models which have been "calibrated" through
numerical test simulations. In the absence of test data, = 0.8 for geogrids and = 0.6 for
geotextiles (extensible sheets) is recommended (see table 5).
-56-

The pullout resistance factor F* can be obtained most accurately from laboratory or field
pullout tests performed in the specific backfill to be used on the project. Test procedures for
determining pullout parameters are presented in appendix A. Alternatively, F* can be
derived from empirical or theoretical relationships developed for each soil-reinforcement
interaction mechanism and provided by the reinforcement supplier. For any reinforcement,
F* can be estimated using the general equation:
F* = Passive Resistance + Frictional Resistance
or,

F* = Fq " + tan

where:

Fq = the embedment (or surcharge) bearing capacity factor

(2)

= a bearing factor for passive resistance which is based on the thickness


per unit width of the bearing member.

= the soil-reinforcement interaction friction angle.

The pullout capacity parameters for equation 2 are summarized in table 5 and figure 19 for
the soil reinforcement systems considered in this manual.
A significant number of laboratory pullout tests have been performed for many commonly
used reinforcement backfill combinations and correlated to representative field pullout tests.
Therefore, the need for additional laboratory and/or field pullout tests, should be limited to
reinforcement/backfill combinations, where this data is sparse or non existent. Where
applicable, laboratory pullout tests should be made in a device consisting of a test box with
the following minimum dimensions: 760 mm (30 inches) wide, 1210 mm (48 inches) long,
and 450 mm (18 inches) deep. The reinforcement samples should be horizontally embedded
between two, 150-mm (6-inch) layers of soil. The reinforcement specimen should be pulled
horizontally out the front of the box through a split removable door. The test normal load
should be applied vertically to the sample by pressurizing an air bag placed between a cover
plate and a reaction plate resting on the soil. The pullout movement should be approximately
1.0 mm (0.04-inch) per minute and monitored using dial gauges mounted to the front of the
specimen. Note that this test procedure provides a short-term pullout capacity and does not
account for soil or reinforcement creep deformations, which may be of significance in RSS
structures utilizing fine grained backfills.
When using laboratory pullout tests to determine design parameters, vertical stress variations
and reinforcement element configurations for the actual project should be used. Tests should
be performed on samples with a minimum embedded length of 600 mm (24 inches). The
pullout resistance is the greater of the peak pullout resistance value prior to or the value
achieved at a maximum deformation of 20 mm (-inch) as measured at the front of the
embedded section for inextensible reinforcements and 15 mm (5/8-inch) as measured at the
end of the embedded sample for extensible reinforcements. This allowable deflection criteria
is based on a need to limit the structure deformations, which are necessary to develop
sufficient pullout capacity.
-57-

Table 5. Summary of pullout capacity design parameters.

Tan

Fq

Default
Value

NA

Obtain Tan
from tests, or
use default
values

NA

NA

1.0

t(Fq)
(2Tan)

St#Sopt

Obtain Tan
from tests

NA

NA

1.0

t(Fq)
(2Tan)

St>Sopt

NA

Obtain Fq
from tests,
or use
default
values

t/(2St)

1.0

t(Fq)
(2Tan)

St#Sopt

Obtain Tan
from tests

NA

NA

0.8

t(Fq)
(2Tan)

St>Sopt

NA

Obtain Fq
from tests,
or use
default
values

(fbt)
(2St)

0.8

(Min. grid opening)/d50 <1

NA

Obtain Tan
from tests

NA

NA

0.8

Extensible sheets

NA

Obtain Tan
from tests

NA

NA

0.6

Reinforcement Type

Sopt

Inextensible strips

Inextensible grids (bar mats


and welded wire)

Grid
Spacing

Extensible grids:
(Min. grid opening)/d50 >1

NOTES:
It is acceptable to use the empirical values provided in or referenced by this table to determine F* in the absence
of product and backfill specific test data, provided granular backfill as specified in Article 7.3.6.3 of Division II
of 1996 AASHTO Standard Specifications for Highway Bridges is used and Cu$4. For backfill outside these
limits, tests must be run.
Pullout testing to determine is recommended if shown in table is less than 1.0. These values of represent
highly extensible geosynthetics.
For grids where Tan is applicable, apply Tan to the entire surface area of the reinforcement sheet (i.e., soil
and grid), not just the surface area of the grid elements.
NA means "not applicable." is the soil friction angle. is the interface friction angle mobilized along the
reinforcement. Sopt is the optimum transverse grid element spacing to mobilize maximum pullout resistance as
obtained from pullout tests (typically 150 mm or greater). St is the spacing of the transverse grid elements. t is
the thickness of the transverse elements. Fq is the embedment (or surcharge) bearing capacity factor. & is a
structural geometric factor for passive resistance. fb is the fraction of the transverse member on which bearing
can be fully developed (typically ranging from 0.6 to 1.0) as obtained from an evaluation of the bearing surface
shape. d50 is the backfill grain size at 50% passing by weight. is the scale effect correction factor. Definition
of the geometric variables are illustrated in figure 19.

-58-

Figure 19.

Definition of grid dimensions for calculating pullout capacity.

-59-

Long-term pullout tests to assess soil/reinforcement creep behavior should be conducted


when silt or clay reinforced backfill is being used. Soil properties and reinforcement type
will determine if the allowable pullout resistance is governed by creep deformations. The
placement and compaction procedures for both short-term and long-term pullout tests should
simulate field conditions. The allowable deformation criteria in the previous paragraph
should be applied.
A summary of the procedures for evaluating laboratory tests to obtain pullout design
parameters is outlined in appendix A of this manual.
Most specialty system suppliers have developed recommended pullout parameters for their
products, when used in conjunction with the select backfill detailed in this chapter for
MSEW and RSS structures. The semi empirical relationships summarized below are
consistent with results obtained from laboratory and field pullout testing at a 95 percent
confidence limit, and generally consistent with suppliers developed data. Some additional
economy can be obtained from site/product specific testing, where the source of the backfill
in the reinforced volume has been identified during design.
In the absence of site specific pullout testing data, it is reasonable to use these semi empirical
relationships in conjunction with the standard specifications for backfill to provide a
conservative evaluation of pullout resistance.
For steel ribbed reinforcement, the Pullout Resistance Factor F* is commonly taken as:
F* = tan = 1.2 + log Cu at the top of the structure = 2.0 maximum
F* = tan at a depth of 6 m (20 ft) and below

(3)
(4)

where Cu is the uniformity coefficient of the backfill (D60/D10). If the specific Cu for the
wall backfill is unknown at design time a Cu of 4 should be assumed (i.e., F* = 1.8 at the
top of the wall), for backfills meeting the requirements of section 3.4 of this chapter.
For steel grid reinforcements with transverse spacing St > 150 mm (6 inches) (see figure 19),
F* is a function of a bearing or embedment factor (Fq), applied over the contributing bearing
, as follows:
F* = Fq = 40 = 40 (t/2St) = 20 (t/St) at the top of the structure
(5)
F* = Fq = 20 = 20 (t/2St) = 10 (t/St) at a depth of 6 m (20 ft) and below (6)
where t is the thickness of the transverse bar. St shall be uniform throughout the length of
the reinforcement rather than having transverse grid members concentrated only in the
resistant zone. For sloping backfills see figure 30 in Chapter 4.
For geosynthetic (i.e., geogrid and geotextile) sheet reinforcement, the pullout resistance is
based on a reduction in the available soil friction with the reduction factor often referred to
as an Interaction Factor, Ci. In the absence of test data, the F* value for geosynthetic
reinforcement should conservatively be taken as:
-60-

F* = 2/3 tan

(7)

Where used in the above relationships, is the peak friction angle of the soil which for MSE
walls using select granular backfill, is taken as 34 degrees unless project specific test data
substantiates higher values. For RSS structures, the angle of the reinforced backfill is
normally established by test, as a reasonably wide range of backfills can be used. A lower
bound value of 28 degrees is often used.
c.

Interface Shear
The interface shear between sheet type geosynthetics (geotextiles, geogrids and geocomposite
drains) and the soil is often lower than the friction angle of the soil itself and can form a slip
plane. Therefore the interface friction coefficient tan must be determined in order to
evaluate sliding along the geosynthetic interface with the reinforced fill and, if appropriate,
the foundation or retained fill soil. The interface friction angle is determined from soilgeosynthetic direct shear tests in accordance with ASTM D 5321. In the absence of test
results, the interface friction coefficient can be conservatively taken as b tan for
geotextiles, geogrids and geonet type drainage composites. Other geosynthetics such as
geomembranes and some geocomposite drain cores may have much lower interface values
and tests should accordingly be performed.

3.4

ESTABLISHMENT OF ENGINEERING PROPERTIES BASED ON SITE


EXPLORATION AND TESTING

a.

Foundation Soils
Determination of engineering properties for foundation soils should be focused on
establishment of bearing capacity, settlement potential, and position of groundwater levels.
For bearing capacity determinations, frictional and cohesive parameters (, c) as well as unit
weights (T) and groundwater position are normally required in order to calculate bearing
capacity in accordance with Article 4.4.7 for soil and 4.4.8 for rock in 1996 AASHTO
Standard Specifications for Highway Bridges. The effects of load inclination and footing
shape may be omitted and the minimum Factor of Safety may be taken as 2.5 for Group I
loading.
For foundation settlement determinations, the results of conventional settlement analyses
using laboratory time-settlement data, coefficients of consolidation Cc, in conjunction with
approximate value for compression index Cv, obtained from correlations to soil index tests
(moisture content, Atterberg limits) should be used. The results of settlement analyses,
especially with respect to differential settlement should be used to determine the ability of
the facing and connection system to tolerate such movements or the necessity for special
details or procedures to accommodate the differential movement anticipated.
Major foundation weakness and compressibility may require the consideration of ground
improvement techniques to achieve adequate bearing capacity, or limiting total or differential
-61-

settlement. Techniques successfully used, include surcharging with or without wick drains,
stone columns, dynamic compaction, and the use of lightweight fill to reduce settlement.
Additional information on ground improvement techniques can be found in the FHWAs
Ground Improvement Manual DP116. As an alternate, MSE structures with faces
constructed of geosynthetic wraps, welded wire mesh or gabion baskets, which will tolerate
significant differential settlement, could be constructed and permanent facings such as
concrete panels attached after the settlement has occurred. Of particular concern, are
situations where the MSEW structure may terminate adjacent to a rigidly supported structure
such as a pile supported abutment at the end of a retained approach fill.
Evaluation of these foundation related issues are typically beyond the scope of services
provided by wall/slope system suppliers. Evaluations of this type are the responsibility of
agency engineers or consultant geotechnical designers.
b.

Reinforced Backfill Soil


The selection criteria of reinforced backfill should consider long-term performance of the
completed structure, construction phase stability and the degradation environment created
for the reinforcements. Much of our knowledge and experience with MSE structures to date
has been with select, cohesionless backfill. Hence, knowledge about internal stress
distribution, pullout resistance, and failure surface shape is constrained and influenced by the
unique engineering properties of these soil types. Granular soils are ideally suited to MSE
structures. Many agencies have adopted conservative backfill requirements for both walls
and slopes. These conservative properties are suitable for inclusion in standard specifications
or special provisions when project specific testing is not feasible and when the quality of
construction control and inspection may be in question. It should be recognized, however,
that reinforced backfill property criteria cannot completely replace a reasonable degree
of construction control and inspection.
In general, these select backfill materials will be more expensive than lower quality
materials. The specification criteria for each application (walls and slopes) are somewhat
different primarily based on performance requirements of the completed structure (allowable
deformations) and the design approach. Material suppliers of proprietary MSE systems each
have their own criteria for reinforced backfills. Detailed project backfill specifications,
which uniformly apply to all MSE systems, should be provided by the contracting
agency.
The following requirements are consistent with current practice:
Select Granular Fill Material for the Reinforced Zone. All backfill material used in the
structure volume for MSEW structures shall be reasonably free from organic or other
deleterious materials and shall conform to the following gradation limits as determined by
AASHTO T-27.

-62-

1)

U.S. Sieve Size

Percent Passing(a)

102 mm (4 in)(a,b)
0.425 mm (No. 40)
0.075 mm (No. 200)

100
0-60
0-15

Plasticity Index (PI) shall not exceed 6.


(a)

In order to apply default F* values, Cu, should be greater than or equal to 4.


As a result of recent research on construction survivability of geosynthetics and epoxy coated
reinforcements, it is recommended that the maximum particle size for these materials be reduced to
19 mm (-inch) for geosynthetics, and epoxy and PVC coated reinforcements unless tests are or have
been performed to evaluate the extent of construction damage anticipated for the specific fill material
and reinforcement combination.
(b)

2)

Soundness. The materials shall be substantially free of shale or other soft, poor
durability particles. The material shall have a magnesium sulfate soundness loss (or
a sodium sulfate value less than 15 percent after five cycles) of less than 30 percent
after four cycles. Testing shall be in accordance with AASHTO T-104.

The fill material must be free of organic matter and other deleterious substances, as these
materials not only enhance corrosion but also result in excessive settlements. The
compaction specifications should include a specified lift thickness and allowable range of
moisture content with reference to optimum. The compaction requirements of backfill are
different in close proximity to the wall facing (within 1.5 to 2 m). Lighter compaction
equipment is used near the wall face to prevent buildup of high lateral pressures from the
compaction and to prevent facing panel movement. Because of the use of this lighter
equipment, a backfill material of good quality in terms of both friction and drainage, such
as crushed stone is recommended close to the face of the wall to provide adequate strength
and tolerable settlement in this zone. It should be noted that granular fill containing even a
few percent fines may not be free draining and drainage requirements should always be
carefully evaluated.
For RSS structures, less select backfill can be used as facings are typically flexible and can
tolerate some distortion during construction. Even so, a high quality embankment fill
meeting the following gradation requirements to facilitate compaction and minimize
reinforcement requirements is recommended. The following guidelines are provided as
recommended backfill requirements for RSS construction:
Percent Passing

Sieve Size
20 mm*
4.76 mm (No. 4)
0.425 mm (No. 40)
0.075 mm (No. 200)

100
100 - 20
0 - 60
0 - 50

Plasticity Index (PI) # 20 (AASHTO T-90)


-63-

Soundness: Magnesium sulfate soundness loss less than 30% after 4 cycles,
based on AASHTO T-104 or equivalent sodium sulfate soundness of less
than 15 percent after 5 cycles.
*

The maximum fill size can be increased (up to 100 mm) provided field tests have
been or will be performed to evaluate potential strength reduction due to
construction damage. In any case, geosynthetic strength reduction factors for site
damage should be checked in relation to the maximum particle size to be used and
the angularity of the larger particles.

Backfill compaction should be based on 95% of AASHTO T-99, and 2% of optimum


moisture, wopt.
The reinforced fill criteria outlined above represent materials that have been successfully
used throughout the United States and resulted in excellent structure performance. Peak
shear strength parameters are used in the analysis. For MSE walls, a lower bound frictional
strength of 34 degrees would be consistent with the specified fill, although some nearly
uniform fine sands meeting the specifications limits may exhibit friction angles of 31 to 32
degrees. Higher values may be used if substantiated by laboratory direct shear or triaxial test
results for the site specific material used or proposed. However, extreme caution is advised
for use of friction angles above 40 degrees for design due to a lack of field performance data
and questions concerning mobilization of shear strength above that value.
Fill materials outside of these gradation and plasticity index requirements have been used
successfully; however, problems including significant distortion and structural failure have
also been observed. While there may be a significant savings in using lower quality backfill,
property values must be carefully evaluated with respect to influence on both internal and
external stability. For MSE walls constructed with reinforced fill containing more than 15%
passing a 0.075 mm (#200) sieve and/or the PI exceeds 6, both total and effective shear
strength parameters should be evaluated in order to obtain an accurate assessment of
horizontal stresses, sliding, compound failure (behind and through the reinforced zone) and
the influence of drainage on the analysis. Both long-term and short-term pullout tests as well
as soil/reinforcement interface friction tests should be performed. Settlement characteristics
must be carefully evaluated, especially in relation to downdrag stresses imposed on
connections at the face and settlement of supported structures. Drainage requirements at the
back, face and beneath the reinforced zone must be carefully evaluated (e.g., use flow nets
to evaluate influence of seepage forces and hydrostatic pressure).
Electrochemical tests should be performed on the backfill to obtain data for evaluating
degradation of reinforcements and facing connections. Moisture and density control during
construction must be carefully controlled in order to obtain strength and interaction values.
Deformation during construction also must be carefully monitored and maintained within
defined design limits. Performance monitoring is also recommended for backfill soils that
fall outside of the requirements listed above, as detailed in chapter 9.

-64-

For RSS structures, where a considerably greater percentage of fines (minus #200 sieve) is
permitted, lower bound values of frictional strength equal to 28 to 30 degrees would be
reasonable for the backfill requirements listed. A significant economy could again be
achieved if laboratory direct shear or triaxial test results on the proposed fill are performed,
justifying a higher value. Likewise, soils outside the gradation range listed should be
carefully evaluated and monitored.
c.

Retained Fill
The key engineering properties required are strength and unit weight based on evaluation and
testing of subsurface data. Friction angles () and unit weight (T) may be determined from
either drained direct shear tests or consolidated drained triaxial tests. If undisturbed samples
cannot be obtained, friction angles may be obtained from in-situ tests or by correlations with
index properties. The strength properties are required for the determination of the
coefficients of earth pressure used in design. In addition, the position of groundwater levels
above the proposed base of construction must be determined in order to plan an appropriate
drainage scheme. For most retained fills lower bound frictional strength values of 28 to 30
degrees are reasonable for granular and low plasticity cohesive soils. For highly plastic
retained fills (PI>40), even lower values would be indicated and should be evaluated for both
drained and undrained conditions.

d.

Electrochemical Properties
The design of buried steel elements of MSE structures is predicated on backfills exhibiting
minimum or maximum electrochemical index properties and then designing the structure for
maximum corrosion rates associated with these properties. These recommended index
properties and their corresponding limits are shown in table 6.
Reinforced fill soils must meet the indicated criteria to be qualified for use in MSE
construction using steel reinforcements.
Where geosynthetic reinforcements are planned, the limits for electrochemical criteria would
vary depending on the polymer. Tentative limits, based on current research are shown in
table 7.

Table 6.

Recommended limits of electrochemical properties for backfills


when using steel reinforcement.

Property

Criteria

Resistivity
pH
Chlorides
Sulfates
Organic Content

>3000 ohm-cm
>5<10
<100 PPM
<200 PPM
1% max.
-65-

Test Method
AASHTO T-288-91
AASHTO T-289-91
AASHTO T-291-91
AASHTO T-290-91
AASHTO T-267-86

Table 7.

Recommended limits of electrochemical properties for backfills


when using geosynthetic reinforcements.

Base Polymer
Polyester (PET)
Polyolefin (PP & HDPE)

3.5

Property

Criteria

pH
pH

>3<9
>3

Test Method
AASHTO T-289-91
AASHTO T-289-91

ESTABLISHMENT OF STRUCTURAL DESIGN PROPERTIES

The structural design properties of reinforcement materials are a function of geometric


characteristics, strength and stiffness, durability, and material type. The two most commonly used
reinforcement materials, steel and geosynthetics, must be considered separately as follows:
a.

Geometric Characteristics
Two types can be considered:
!

Strips, bars, and steel grids. A layer of steel strips, bars, or grids is characterized
by the cross-sectional area, the thickness and perimeter of the reinforcement element,
and the center-to-center horizontal distance between elements (for steel grids, an
element is considered to be a longitudinal member of the grid that extends into the
wall).

Geotextiles and geogrids. A layer of geosynthetic strips is characterized by the


width of the strips and the center-to-center horizontal distance between them. The
cross-sectional area is not needed, since the strength of a geosynthetic strip is
expressed by a tensile force per unit width, rather than by stress. Difficulties in
measuring the thickness of these thin and relatively compressible materials preclude
reliable estimates of stress.

The coverage ratio Rc is used to relate the force per unit width of discrete reinforcement to
the force per unit width required across the entire structure.
Rc  b/Sh

(8)

where: b = the gross width of the strip, sheet or grid; and


Sh = center-to-center horizontal spacing between strips, sheets, or grids
(Rc = 1 in the case of continuous reinforcement, i.e., each reinforcement layer covers the
entire horizontal surface of the reinforced soil mass.)

-66-

b.

Strength Properties
Steel Reinforcement
For steel reinforcements, the design life is achieved by reducing the cross-sectional area of
the reinforcement used in design calculations by the anticipated corrosion losses over the
design life period as follows:
Ec  E n  ER

(9)

where Ec is the thickness of the reinforcement at the end of the design life, En the nominal
thickness at construction, and ER the sacrificial thickness of metal expected to be lost by
uniform corrosion during the service life of the structure.
The allowable tensile force per unit width of reinforcement, Ta, is obtained as follows:

Ta  0.55

for steel strips

F y Ac

(10)

b
and

Ta  0.48

for steel grids connected to


concrete panels or blocks

F y Ac

(11)

(Note: 0.55 Fy may be used for steel grids with flexible facings)
where:

the gross width of the strip, sheet or grid

Fy

yield stress of steel

Ac

design cross section area of the steel, defined as the original


cross section area minus corrosion losses anticipated to occur
during the design life of the wall.

The allowable tensile stress for steel reinforcements and connections for permanent
structures is developed in accordance with Article 10.32, in particular table 10.32.1A of
AASHTO Standard Specifications for Highway Bridges. These requirements result in an
allowable tensile stress for steel strip reinforcement, in the wall backfill away from the wall
face connections, of 0.55 Fy. The 0.55 factor applied to Fy for permanent structures accounts
for uncertainties in structure geometry, fill properties, externally applied loads, the potential
for local overstress due to load nonuniformities, and uncertainties in long-term reinforcement
strength and is equivalent to a factor of safety of 1.82 (i.e. 1/0.55). For grid reinforcing
members connected to a rigid facing element (e.g., a concrete panel or block), the allowable
-67-

tensile stress is reduced to a 0.48 Fy providing an implied factor of safety of 2.08 to account
for the greater potential for local overstress due to load nonuniformities for steel grids than
for steel strips or bars. Transverse and longitudinal grid members are sized in accordance
with ASTM A-185. For temporary structures (i.e., design lives of 3 years or less), AASHTO
permits an increase to the allowable tensile stress by 40 percent.
The quantities needed for determination of Ac for steel strips and grids are shown in figure
20. Typical dimensions for common steel reinforcements are provided in appendix D. The
use of hardened and otherwise low strain (very high strength) steels may increase the
potential for catastrophic failure, therefore, a lower allowable material stress may be
warranted with such materials.
For metallic reinforcement, the life of the structure will depend on the corrosion resistance
of the reinforcement. Practically all the metallic reinforcements used in construction of
embankments and walls, whether they are strips, bar mats, or wire mesh, are made of
galvanized mild steel. Woven meshes with PVC coatings provide some corrosion protection,
provided the coating is not significantly damaged during construction. Epoxy coatings can
be used for corrosion protection, but are susceptible to construction damage, which can
significantly reduce its effectiveness. When PVC or epoxy coatings are used, the maximum
particle size of the backfill should be restricted to 19 mm (-inch) or less to reduce the
potential for construction damage. For a more detailed discussion of requirements, refer to
the Corrosion/Degradation document.
Several State transportation departments have used resin-bonded epoxy coated steel
reinforcing elements. The effectiveness of these coatings in MSEW structures has not been
sufficiently demonstrated and their widespread use cannot be presently endorsed. If used a
minimum coating thickness of 0.41 mm (16 mils) is recommended applied in accordance
with ASTM A-884 for grid reinforcement and AASHTO M-284 for strip reinforcement.
Their in-ground life is presently estimated at 20 years. Where other metals, such as
aluminum alloys or stainless steel have been used, corrosion, unexpectedly, has been a severe
problem, and their use has been discontinued.
The in-ground degradation resistance of PVC coated mesh has not been sufficiently
demonstrated. Anecdotal evidence of satisfactory performance in excess of 25 years does
not exist.
Extensive studies have been made to determine the rate of corrosion of galvanized mild steel
bars or strips buried in different types of soils commonly used in reinforced soil. Based on
these studies, deterioration of steel strips, mesh, bars and mats can be estimated and
accounted for by using increased metal thickness.
The majority of MSE walls constructed to date have used galvanized steel and backfill
materials with low corrosive potential. A minimum galvanization coating of 0.61 kg/m2 (2.0
oz/ft2) or 86 m (3.4 mils) thickness applied in accordance with AASHTO M 111 (ASTM
A 123) for strip type reinforcements or ASTM D 641 for bar mat or grid type steel

-68-

Figure 20.

Parameters for metal reinforcement strength calculations.


-69-

reinforcements is required, per AASHTO Standard Specifications for Highway Bridges. The
zinc coating provides a sacrificial anode that corrodes while protecting the base metal.
Galvanization also assists in preventing the formation of pits in the base metal during the
first years of aggressive corrosion. After the zinc is oxidized (consumed), corrosion of the
base metal starts.
The corrosion rates presented below are suitable for conservative design. These rates
assume a mildly corrosive backfill material having the controlled electrochemical
property limits that are discussed under electrochemical properties in this chapter.
Corrosion Rates - mildly corrosive backfill
For zinc/side
15 m/year (0.6 mils/yr) (first 2 years)
4 m/year (0.16 mils/yr) (thereafter)
For residual carbon steel/side
12 m/year (0.5 mils/yr) (thereafter)
Based on these rates, complete corrosion of galvanization with the minimum required
thickness of 86 m (3.4 mils) (AASHTO M 111) is estimated to occur during the first 16
years and a carbon steel thickness or diameter loss of 1.42 mm to 2.02 mm (0.055 in to 0.08
in) would be anticipated over the remaining years of a 75 to 100 year design life,
respectively. The designer of an MSE structure should also consider the potential for
changes in the reinforced backfill environment during the structure's service life. In certain
parts of the United States, it can be expected that deicing salts might cause such an
environment change. For this problem, the depth of chloride infiltration and concentration
are of concern.
For permanent structures directly supporting roadways exposed to deicing salts, limited
data indicate that the upper 2.5 m (8 ft) of the reinforced backfill (as measured from the
roadway surface) are affected by higher corrosion rates not presently defined. Under these
conditions, it is recommended that a 30 mil (minimum) geomembrane be placed below the
road base and tied into a drainage system to mitigate the penetration of the deicing salts in
lieu of higher corrosion rates as shown in the Design Details section in Chapter 4.
The following project situations lie outside the scope of the previously presented values:
!

Structures exposed to a marine or other chloride-rich environment. (Excluding


locations where de-icing salts are used.) For marine saltwater structures, carbon steel
losses on the order of 80 m (3.2 mils) per side should be anticipated in the first few
years, reducing to 17 to 20 m (0.67 to 0.7 mils) thereafter. Zinc losses are likely to
be quite rapid as compared to losses in backfills meeting the MSE electrochemical
criteria. Total loss of zinc (86 am) should be anticipated in the first year.
Structures exposed to stray currents, such as from nearby underground power lines,
and structures supporting or located adjacent to electrical railways.
-70-

Each of these situations creates a special set of conditions that should be specifically
analyzed by a corrosion specialist.
Geosynthetic Reinforcement
Selection of Ta for geosynthetic reinforcement is more complex than for steel. The tensile
properties of geosynthetics are affected by environmental factors such as creep, installation
damage, aging, temperature, and confining stress. Furthermore, characteristics of
geosynthetic products manufactured with the same base polymer can vary widely, and the
details of polymer behavior for in-ground use are not completely understood. Ideally, Ta
should be determined by thorough consideration of allowable elongation, creep potential and
all possible strength degradation mechanisms.
Polymeric reinforcement, although not susceptible to corrosion, may degrade due to
physicochemical activity in the soil such as hydrolysis, oxidation, and environmental stress
cracking depending on polymer type. In addition, these materials are susceptible to
installation damage and the effects of high temperature at the facing and connections.
Temperatures can be as high as 50o C compared with the normal range of in-ground
temperature of 12o C in cold and temperate climates to 30o C in arid desert climates.
Degradation most commonly occurs from mechanical damage, long-term time dependent
degradation caused by stress (creep), deterioration from exposure to ultraviolet light, and
chemical or biological interaction with the surrounding environment. Because of varying
polymer types, quality, additives and product geometry, each geosynthetic is different in its
resistance to aging and attack by different chemical and biological agents. Therefore, each
product must be investigated individually.
Typically, polyester products (PET) are susceptible to aging strength reductions due to
hydrolysis (water availability) and high temperatures. Hydrolysis and fiber dissolution are
accelerated in alkaline regimes, below or near piezometric water levels or in areas of
substantial rainfall where surface water percolation or capillary action ensures water
availability over most of the year.
Polyolefin products (PP and HDPE) are susceptible to aging strength losses due to oxidation
(contact with oxygen) and or high temperatures. The level of oxygen in reinforced fills is a
function of soil porosity, ground water location and other factors, and has been found to be
slightly less than oxygen levels in the atmosphere (21 percent). Therefore, oxidation of
geosynthetics in the ground may proceed at an equal rate than those used above ground.
Oxidation is accelerated by the presence of transition metals (Fe, Cu, Mn, Co, Cr) in the
backfill as found in acid sulphate soils, slag fills, other industrial wastes or mine tailings
containing transition metals. It should be noted that the resistance of polyolefin
geosynthetics to oxidation is primarily a function of the proprietary antioxidant package
added to the base resin, which differs for each product brand, even when formulated with the
same base resin.

-71-

The relative resistance of polymers to these identified regimes is shown in table 8 and a
choice can be made, therefore, consistent with the in-ground regimes indicated.
Most geosynthetic reinforcement is buried, and therefore ultraviolet (UV) stability is only of
concern during construction and when the geosynthetic is used to wrap the wall or slope face.
If used in exposed locations, the geosynthetic should be protected with coatings or facing
units to prevent deterioration. Vegetative covers can also be considered in the case of open
weave geotextiles or geogrids. Thick geosynthetics with ultraviolet stabilizers can be left
exposed for several years or more without protection; however, long-term maintenance
should be anticipated because of both UV deterioration and possible vandalism.
Damage during handling and construction, such as from abrasion and wear, punching and
tear or scratching, notching, and cracking may occur in brittle polymer grids. These types
of damage can only be avoided by care during handling and construction. Track type
construction equipment should not travel directly on geosynthetic materials.
Damage during backfilling operations is a function of the severity of loading imposed on the
geosynthetic during construction operations and the size and angularity of the backfill. For
MSEW and RSS construction, light weight, low strength geotextiles should be avoided to
minimize damage with ensuing loss of strength.

Table 8. Anticipated resistance of polymers to specific environments.


Soil Environment

Polymer

Acid Sulphate Soils


Organic Soils
Saline Soils pH < 9
Calcareous Soils
Modified Soils/Lime, Cement
Sodic Soils, ph > 9
Soils with Transition Metals
NE
?

PET

PE

PP

NE
NE
NE
?
?
?
NE

?
NE
NE
NE
NE
NE
?

?
NE
NE
NE
NE
NE
?

= No Effect
= Questionable Use, Exposure Tests Required

-72-

For geosynthetic reinforcements, the design life is achieved by developing an allowable


design load which considers all time dependent strength losses over the design life period as
follows:
Ta 

T ULT
RF @ FS

Tal
FS

(12)

where Ta is the design long-term reinforcement tension load for the limit state, TULT the
ultimate geosynthetic tensile strength and RF is the product of all applicable reduction factors
and FS the overall factor of safety. Tal is the long-term material strength or more specifically:

Tal 

TULT

(13)

RFCR @ RFD @ RFID

where:
Tal

Long-term tensile strength on a load per unit width of reinforcing basis.

TULT

Ultimate (or yield) tensile strength from wide strip test (ASTM D 4595) for
geotextiles and wide strip (ASTM D 4595) or single rib test (GR1:GG1) for
geogrids (note, that the same test shall be used for definition of the geogrid
creep reduction factor), based on minimum average roll value (MARV) for the
product.

RFCR =

Creep Reduction Factor is the ratio of the ultimate strength (TULT) to the creep
limit strength obtained from laboratory creep tests for each product. Typical
ranges of reduction factors as a function of polymer type, are indicated below:
Creep Reduction Factors
Polymer Type
Polyester
2.5 to 1.6
Polypropylene
5 to 4.0
High Density Polyethylene
5 to 2.6

RFD

Durability reduction factor. It is dependent on the susceptibility of the


geosynthetic to attack by microorganisms, chemicals, thermal oxidation,
hydrolysis and stress cracking, and can vary typically from 1.1 to 2.0. The
minimum reduction factor shall be 1.1.

RFID

Installation Damage reduction factor. It can range from 1.05 to 3.0, depending
on backfill gradation and product mass per unit weight. The minimum
reduction factor shall be 1.1 to account for testing uncertainties.

-73-

FS

Overall factor of safety to account for uncertainties in the geometry of the


structure, fill properties, reinforcement properties, and externally applied loads.
For permanent, MSEW structures only, a minimum factor of safety of 1.5 has
been typically used (thus Ta = Tal / 1.5).
For RSS structures, it is taken as 1.0, as the required factor of safety, is
accounted in the stability analysis (thus Ta = Tal ).

Tal is typically obtained directly from the manufacturer. It typically includes reduction
factors but does not include a design or material factor of safety, FS. The determination of
reduction factors for each geosynthetic product require extensive field and/or laboratory
testing, briefly summarized as follows:
Creep Reduction Factor, RFCR.
The creep reduction factor is obtained from long term laboratory creep testing as detailed in
appendix B. This reduction factor is required to limit the load in the reinforcement to a level
known as the creep limit, that will preclude creep rupture over the life of the structure. Creep
in itself does not degrade the strength of the polymer. Creep testing is essentially a constant
load test on multiple product samples, loaded to various percentages of the ultimate product
load, for periods of up to 10,000 hours. The creep reduction factor is the ratio of the ultimate
load to the extrapolated maximum sustainable load (i.e., creep limit) within the design life
of the structure (e.g., several years for temporary structures, 75 to 100 years for permanent
structures).
For temporary structures, the maximum sustainable load is defined at a time equal to the
temporary life of the structure.
Durability Reduction Factor, RFD.
The protocol for testing to obtain this reduction factor have been proposed and are detailed
in FHWA RD-97-144. In general, it consists of oven aging polyolefins (PP and HDPE)
samples to accelerate oxidation and measure their strength reduction, as a function of time,
temperature and oxygen concentration. This high temperature data must then be extrapolated
to a temperature consistent with field conditions. For polyesters (PET) the aging is
conducted in an aqueous media at varying pH's and relatively high temperature to accelerate
hydrolysis, with data extrapolated to a temperature consistent with field conditions.
For more detailed explanations, see the companion Corrosion/Degradation document. The
following recommendations are stated in this companion document in regards to defining a
RFD factor.

-74-

With respect to aging degradation, current research results suggest the following:
Polyester geosynthetics
PET geosynthetics are recommended for use in environments characterized by 3 <
pH < 9, only. The following reduction factors for PET aging (RFD) are presently
indicated for a 100 year design life in the absence of product specific testing:

Table 9. Aging reduction factors, PET.


Reduction factor, RFD
No.

Product*

5#pH#8

3#pH#5
8#pH#9

Geotextiles
Mn<20,000, 40 <CEG<50

1.6

2.0

Coated geogrids, Geotextiles


Mn>25,000, CEG<30

1.15

1.3

Mn = number average molecular weight

CEG = carboxyl end group

* Use of materials outside the indicated pH or molecular property range requires specific
product testing.

Polyolefin geosynthetics
To mitigate thermal and oxidative degradative processes, polyolefin products are
stabilized by the addition of antioxidants for both processing stability and long term
functional stability. These antioxidant packages are proprietary to each manufacturer
and their type, quantity and effectiveness varies. Without residual antioxidant
protection (after processing), PP products are vulnerable to oxidation and significant
strength loss within a projected 75 to 100 year design life at 20oC. Current data
suggests that unstabilized PP has a half life of less than 50 years.
Therefore the anticipated functional life of a PP geosynthetic is to a great extent a
function of the type and remaining antioxidant levels, and the rate of subsequent
antioxidant consumption. Antioxidant consumption is related to the oxygen content
in the ground, which in fills is only slightly less than atmospheric.
At present, heat aging protocols for PP products, at full or reduced atmospheric
oxygen, with subsequent numerical analysis are available for PP products which
exhibit no initial cracks or crazes in their as manufactured state, typically
monofilaments.(24) For PP products with initial crazes or cracks, typically tape
products, or HDPE, heat aging testing protocols may change the nature of the product
-75-

and therefore may lead to erroneous results. Alternate testing protocols using oxygen
pressure as a time accelerator are under study and development.
Since each product has a unique and proprietary blend of antioxidants, product
specific testing is required to determine the effective life span of protection at the inground oxygen content. Limited data suggests that certain antioxidants are effective
for up to 100 years in maintaining strength for in-ground use.
Installation Damage Reduction Factor, RFID.
Protocols for field testing for this reduction factor is detailed in the companion
Corrosion/Degradation document and in ASTM D-5818. The protocol requires that the
geosynthetic material is subjected to a backfilling and compaction cycle, consistent with field
practice. The ratio of the initial strength, to the strength of retrieved samples defines this
reduction factor. For reinforcement applications a minimum weight of 270 g/m2 (7.9 oz/yd2)
for geotextiles is recommended to minimize installation damage. This roughly corresponds
to a Class 1 geotextile as specified in AASHTO M-288-96.
The following recommendations are stated in this companion document in regards to
defining a RFID factor.
For more detailed explanations, see the companion
Corrosion/Degradation document.
To account for installation damage losses of strength where full-scale product-specific testing
is not available, Table 10 may be used with consideration of the project specified backfill
characteristics. In absence of project specific data the largest indicated reduction factor for
each geosynthetic type should be used.

Table 10. Installation damage reduction factors(36).


Reduction Factor, RFID
No.

(1)

Geosynthetic

Type 1 Backfill
Max. Size 102mm
D50 about 30mm

Type 2 Backfill
Max. Size 20mm
D50 about 0.7mm

HDPE uniaxial geogrid

1.20 - 1.45

1.10 - 1.20

PP biaxial geogrid

1.20 - 1.45

1.10 - 1.20

PVC coated PET geogrid

1.30 - 1.85

1.10 - 1.30

Acrylic coated PET geogrid

1.30 - 2.05

1.20 - 1.40

Woven geotextiles (PP&PET)(1)

1.40 - 2.20

1.10 - 1.40

(1)

Non woven geotextiles (PP&PET)

1.40 - 2.50

1.10 - 1.40

Slit film woven PP geotextile (1)

1.60 - 3.00

1.10 - 2.00

Minimum weight 270 g/m2 (7.9 oz/yd2)

-76-

Durability Reduction Factor, RFD, at Wall Face Unit.


As noted in section 4.3.e Connection Strength, the long-term environmental aging factor
(RFD) may be significantly different than that used in computing the allowable reinforcement
strength Ta. Of particular concern is the use of polyester geogrid and geotextile
reinforcements with concrete facings because of the potential high pH environment. It is
recommended that the use of polyesters be limited to a pH range of > 3 and < 9, as noted in
table 7.
It is also noted in Section 4.3.e, that PET geogrids and geotextiles should not be cast into
concrete for connections, due to potential chemical degradation. Use of PET reinforcements
connected to dry-cast MBW units by laying the reinforcement between units may be subject
to additional strength reductions.
An FHWA sponsored field monitoring study to examine pH conditions within and adjacent
to MBW units has been concluded.(35) This study provided a large database of pH
measurements of 25 MSEW structures in the United States.
The results indicated that the pH regime within the blocks in the connection zone is only
occasionally above 9 and then for only the first few years. The pH subsequently decreases
to the pH of the ambient backfill.(35) It therefore appears that for coated PET geogrids no
further reduction is warranted. For geotextiles a small further reduction should be considered
to account for a few years at a pH in excess of 9.
Caution is advised in situations where the MBW units will be saturated for extended periods
of time such as structures in lakes or streams. For such cases, long-term pH tests should be
performed on saturated block and if the pH exceeds 9, polyester reinforcements should not
be used in the section of the structure.
Factor of Safety, FS.
This is a global factor of safety which accounts for uncertainties in externally applied loads,
structure geometry, fill properties, potential for local overstress due to load nonuniformity
and uncertainties in long-term reinforcement strength. For limit state conditions, a F.S. of
1.5 has been traditionally used. This is lower than the implied current F.S. of 1.82 (1/0.55
Fy) for steel reinforcements due to the ductile nature of geosynthetics systems versus the
brittle nature of steel systems at failure.
The recommended F.S. of 1.5 can be further justified by considering the following:
!

For geosynthetic reinforcements, the backfill soil controls the amount of strain in the
reinforcement which for granular backfills is limited to considerably less than the
rupture strain of the reinforcement. Therefore even at a limit state, overstress of the
geosynthetic reinforcement would cause visible time dependent strain in the wall
system rather than sudden collapse.

The long-term properties of geosynthetics, based on limited data, are significantly


improved when confined in soil. Confinement is presently not considered in
developing allowable strength.

Measurement of stress levels in structures, has consistently indicated lower stress


levels than used for design as developed in chapter 4.

-77-

For preliminary design of permanent structures or for applications defined by the user as not
having severe consequences should poor performance or failure occur, the allowable tensile
strength Ta, may be evaluated without product specific data, as:
Ta 

TULT

(14)

7 @ FS

Further, this reduction factor RF = 7, should be limited to projects where the project
environment meets the following requirements:
!

Granular soils (sands, gravels) used in the reinforced volume.

4.5 # pH # 9

Site temperature < 30o C

Maximum backfill particle size of 19 mm

Maximum MSEW height is 10 m (33 ft) and

Maximum RSS height is 15 m (50 ft)

Site temperature is defined as the temperature which is halfway between the average yearly
air temperature and normal daily air temperature for the highest month at the site.
The total reduction factor of 7 has been established by multiplying lower bound partial
reduction factors obtained from currently available test data, for products which meet the
minimum requirements in table 11.
It should be noted that the total Reduction Factor may be reduced significantly with
appropriate test data. It is not uncommon for products with creep, installation damage
and aging data, to develop total Reduction Factors in the range of 3 to 6.
For temporary applications not having severe consequences should poor performance or
failure occur, a default value for RF of 3 rather than 7 could be considered.
Serviceability
Serviceability requirements for geosynthetic reinforcements are met through the use of low
allowable stress levels resulting from reduction factors combined with the inherent
constraining effects of granular soils. With regard to strain limits on the reinforcement,
methods for determination of strain vary widely with no present consensus on an appropriate
analytical method capable of modeling strains in the structure. Measurements from
instrumented field structures have consistently measured much lower strain levels in the
reinforcement (typically less than 1 percent) than predicted by most current analytical
methods. Therefore, until an appropriate method of determination is agreed upon, it is
recommended that strain limit requirements not be imposed on the reinforcement.

-78-

Table 11.

Minimum requirements for use of default reduction factors


for primary geosynthetic reinforcement.
Criteria to Allow
Use of Default RF

Type

Property

Test Method

Polypropylene

UV
Oxidation Resistance

ASTM D-4355

Min. 70% strength


retained after 500 hrs. in
weatherometer

Polyethylene

UV
Oxidation Resistance

ASTM D-4355

Min. 70% strength


retained after 500 hrs. in
weatherometer

Polyester

Hydrolysis Resistance

Inherent Viscosity Method (ASTM


D-4603) with Correlation or
Determine Directly Using Gel
Permeation Chromatography

Min. Number (Mn)


Molecular Weight of
25,000

Polyester

Hydrolysis Resistance

GRI GG7

Max. Carboxyl End


Group Number of 30

All Polymers

Survivability

Weight per Unit Area,


ASTM D-5261

Min. 270 g/m2


(7.9 oz/yd2)

All Polymers

% Post Consumer
Recycled Material by
Weight

Certification of Material used

Maximum 0%

-79-

[ BLANK ]

-80-

CHAPTER 4
DESIGN OF MSE WALLS
This chapter details general and simplified design guidelines common to all MSEW systems. It is
limited to MSE walls having a near-vertical face, and uniform length reinforcements. Design
guidelines for complex structures, or structures with unusual features are covered in chapter 5.
This chapter is organized sequentially as follows:
!

Overview of design methods.

Sizing for external stability.

Sizing for internal stability.

Design details.

Design example.

4.1

DESIGN METHODS

Since the development of soil reinforcement concepts and their application to MSEW structure
design, a number of design methods have been proposed, used, and refined. Current practice
consists of determining the geometric and reinforcement requirements to prevent internal and
external failure using limit equilibrium methods of analysis.
External stability evaluations for MSEW structures treat the reinforced section as a composite
homogeneous soil mass and evaluate the stability according to conventional failure modes for gravity
type wall systems. Differences in the present practice exist for internal stability evaluations which
determines the reinforcement required, principally in the development of the internal lateral stress
and the assumption as to the location of the most critical failure surface.
Internal stability is treated as a response of discrete elements in a soil mass. This suggests that
deformations are controlled by the reinforcements rather than total mass, which appears inconsistent
given the much greater volume of soil in such structures. Therefore, deformation analyses are
generally not included in current methods.
Given the availability of different methods and research in the last decade, general agreement has
been reached that a complete design approach should consist of the following:
!

Working Stress analyses.

-81-

Limit Equilibrium analyses.

Deformation Evaluations.

a.

Analysis of Working Stresses for MSEW Structures


An analysis of working stresses consists of:

b.

Selection of reinforcement location and a check that stresses in the stabilized soil
mass are compatible with the properties of the soil and inclusions.

Evaluation of local stability at the level of each reinforcement and prediction of


progressive failure.

Limit Equilibrium Analysis


A limit equilibrium analysis consists of a check of the overall stability of the structure. The
types of stability that must be considered are external, internal, and combined:

c.

External stability involves the overall stability of the stabilized soil mass considered
as a whole and is evaluated using slip surfaces outside the stabilized soil mass.

Internal stability analysis consists of evaluating potential slip surfaces within the
reinforced soil mass.

In some cases, the critical slip surface is partially outside and partially inside the
stabilized soil mass, and a combined external/internal stability analysis may be
required.

Deformation Evaluations
A deformation response analysis allows for an evaluation of the anticipated performance of
the structure with respect to horizontal and vertical displacement. In addition, the influence
and variations in the type of reinforcement on the performance of the structure can be
evaluated. Horizontal deformation analyses are the most difficult and least certain of the
performed analyses. In many cases, they are done only approximately or it is simply assumed
that the usual factors of safety against external or internal stability failure will ensure that
deformations will be within tolerable limits. Vertical deformation analyses are obtained from
conventional settlement computations, with particular emphasis on differential settlements,
longitudinally along the wall face, and transversely from the face to the end of the reinforced
soil volume. The results may impact the choice of facing, facing connections or backfilling
sequences.

-82-

d.

Design Methods, Inextensible Reinforcements


The current method of limit equilibrium analysis uses a coherent gravity structure approach
to determine external stability of the whole reinforced mass, similar to the analysis for any
conventional or traditional gravity structure. For internal stability evaluations, it considers
a bi-linear critical slip surface that divides the reinforced mass in active and resistant zones
and requires that an equilibrium state be achieved for successful design.
The state of stress for external stability, is assumed to be equivalent to a Coulomb state of
stress with a wall friction angle equal to zero. For internal stability a variable state of
stress varying from a multiple of Ka to an active earth pressure state, Ka are used for design.
Recent research (FHWA RD 89-043) has focused on developing the state of stress for
internal stability, as a function of Ka, type of reinforcement used (geotextile, geogrid, metal
strip or metal grid), and depth from the surface. The results from these efforts have been
synthesized in a simplified coherent gravity method, which will be used throughout this
manual.

e.

Design Methods, Extensible Reinforcements


For external stability calculations, the current method assumes an earth pressure
distribution, consistent with the method used for inextensible reinforcements.
For internal stability computations using the simplified coherent gravity method, the
internal coefficient of earth pressure is again a function of the type of reinforcement, where
the minimum coefficient (Ka) is used for walls constructed with continuous sheets of
geotextiles and geogrids. For internal stability, a Rankine failure surface is considered,
because the extensible reinforcements can elongate more than the soil, before failure.

4.2

SIZING FOR EXTERNAL STABILITY

As with classical gravity and semigravity retaining structures, four potential external failure
mechanisms are usually considered in sizing MSE walls, as shown in figure 21. They include:
!

Sliding on the base.

Limiting the location of the resultant of all forces (overturning).

Bearing capacity.

Deep seated stability (rotational slip-surface or slip along a plane of weakness).

Due to the flexibility and satisfactory field performance of MSE walls, the adopted values for the
factors of safety for external failure are in some cases lower than those used for reinforced concrete
cantilever or gravity walls. For example, the factor of safety for overall bearing capacity is 2.5 rather
than a higher value, which is used for more rigid structures.
-83-

Figure 21. Potential external failure mechanisms for a MSE wall.

-84-

Likewise, the flexibility of MSE walls should make the potential for overturning failure highly
unlikely. However, overturning criteria (maximum permissible eccentricity) aid in controlling lateral
deformation by limiting tilting and, as such, should always be satisfied.
External stability computational sequences are schematically illustrated as follows:

Define wall geometry and soil properties

Select performance criteria

Preliminary sizing

Evaluate static external stability

Sliding

Overturning
(eccentricity)

Bearing
capacity

Overall slope
stability

Establish reinforcement length

Check seismic stability

Each of the sequential steps are discussed as follows:


a.

Define wall geometry and soil properties


The following must be defined or established by the designer:
!

Wall height, batter.

Soil surcharges, live load surcharges, dead load surcharges, etc.

Seismic loads.
-85-

Settlement/lateral
deform.

b.

Engineering properties of foundation soils (, c, ).

Engineering properties of the reinforced soil volume (, c, ).

Engineering properties of the retained fill (, c, ).

Groundwater conditions.

Select performance criteria


The chosen performance criteria should reflect site conditions and agency or AASHTO code
requirements, which are discussed in detail in chapters 2 and 3.

c.

External stability factors of safety (Sliding, bearing capacity location of resultant


force).

Global stability factor of safety.

Maximum differential settlement.

Maximum horizontal displacement.

Seismic stability factor of safety.

Design life.

Preliminary Sizing
The process of sizing the structure begins by adding the required embedment, established
under Project Criteria (Section 2.7.c), to the wall height in order to determine the design
heights for each section to be investigated. Since the structure is constructed from the
bottom up, this condition may prevail at least to the end of construction.
A preliminary length of reinforcement is chosen that should be greater of 0.7H and 2.5 m,
where H is the design height of the structure. Structures with sloping surcharge fills or other
concentrated loads, as in abutment fills, generally require longer reinforcements for stability,
often on the order of 0.8H to as much as 1.1H. Special structures with lesser reinforcement
lengths at the base are covered in chapter 5.

d.

Earth Pressures for External Stability


Stability computations for walls with a vertical face are made by assuming that the MSE wall
mass acts as a rigid body with earth pressures developed on a vertical pressure plane arising
from the back end of the reinforcements, as shown in figures 23 to 25.

-86-

The active coefficient of earth pressure is calculated for vertical walls (defined as walls with
a face batter of less than 8 degrees) and a horizontal backslope from:
Ka  tan2 (45 

)
2

(15)

for vertical wall with a surcharge slope from:

Ka  cos

cos 

cos2cos2

cos  cos2cos2

(16)

where = surcharge slope angle.


For broken back surcharge conditions, the angle I (see figure 25) is substituted for the infinite
surcharge slope angle .
For an inclined front face equal or greater than 8 degrees, the coefficient of earth pressure can
be calculated from the general Coulomb case as:
sin2 ()

Ka 

sin sin() 1
2

sin() sin()
sin() sin()

(17)

where is the face inclination from a horizontal, and the surcharge slope angle as shown
in figure 22. The wall friction angle is assumed to be equal to a maximum of , but less
than or equal to b.

-87-

Figure 22. Computational procedures for active earth pressures (Coulomb analysis).
-88-

Figure 23. External analysis: earth pressures/eccentricity; horizontal backslope with traffic
surcharge.
-89-

Figure 24. External analysis: earth pressure/eccentricity; sloping backfill case.

-90-

Figure 25. External analysis: earth pressure/eccentricity; broken backslope case.

-91-

Vertical Pressure Computations


Computations for vertical stresses at the base of the wall defined by the height h are shown
on figure 26. It should be noted that the weight of any wall facing is typically neglected in
the calculations. Calculation steps for the determination of a vertical bearing stress are:
(1) Calculate FT = Kaf (, ) f h2

(18)

(2) Calculate eccentricity, e, of the resulting force on the base by summing the
moments of the mass of the reinforced soil section about the center line of mass.
Noting that R in figure 26 must equal the sum of the vertical forces on the
reinforced fill, this condition yields:

e 

FT (cos) h/3FT (sin) L/2V2 (L/6)


V1V2FT sin

(19)

(3) e must be less than L/6 in soil or L/4 in rock. If e is greater, than a longer length
of reinforcement is required.
(4) Calculate the equivalent uniform vertical stress on the base, v:
v 

V1  V2  FT sin
L  2e

(20)

This approach, proposed originally by Meyerhof, assumes that eccentric loading results in
a uniform redistribution of pressure over a reduced area at the base of the wall. This area is
defined by a width equal to the wall width less twice the eccentricity as shown in figure 26.
(5) Add the influence of surcharge and concentrated loads to v, where applicable.
e.

Sliding Stability
Check the preliminary sizing with respect to sliding at the base layer, which is the most
critical depth as follows:
horizontal resisting forces
j PR
FSsliding  j

$ 1.5
j Pd
j horizontal driving forces

-92-

(21)

Figure 26. Calculation of vertical stress v at the foundation level.

-93-

where the resisting force is the lesser of the shear resistance along the base of the wall or of
a weak layer near the base of the MSE wall, and the sliding force is the horizontal
component of the thrust on the vertical plane at the back of the wall (see figures 23 through
25).
Note that any soil passive resistance at the toe due to embedment is ignored due to the
potential for the soil to be removed through natural or manmade processes during its service
life (e.g. erosion, utility installation, etc.). The shear strength of the facing system is also
conservatively neglected.
Additional surcharge loads may include live and dead load surcharges.
The calculation steps for an MSE wall with a sloping surcharge are (figure 26):
(1) Calculate thrust FT = Kaf (, ) f h2
where h = H + L tan

(22)
(23)

(2) Calculate the driving force:


Pd

= FH = FT cos .

(24)

(3) Determine the most critical frictional properties at the base. Choose the
minimum for three possibilities:
-

Sliding along the foundation soil, if its shear strength (cf, f) is smaller than that
of the backfill material.

Sliding along the reinforced backfill (r).

For sheet type reinforcement, sliding along the weaker of the upper and lower
soil-reinforcement interfaces. The soil-reinforcement friction angle , should
preferably be measured by means of interface direct shear tests. Alternatively,
it may be taken as b tan .

(4) Calculate the resisting force per unit length of wall:


PR =

(V1 + V2 + FT sin ) "

(25)

where
=

min [tan f, tan r, or (for continuous reinforcement) tan ]

The effect of external loadings on the MSE mass, which increases sliding
resistance, should only be included if the loadings are permanent. For example,
live load traffic surcharges should be excluded.
-94-

(5) Calculate the factor of safety with respect to sliding and check if it is greater than
the required value, using equation 21.
(6) If Not:
f.

Increase the reinforcement length, L, and repeat the calculations.

Bearing Capacity Failure


Two modes of bearing capacity failure exist, general shear failure and local shear failure.
Local shear is characterized by a "squeezing" of the foundation soil when soft or loose soils
exist below the wall.
!

General Shear
To prevent bearing capacity failure, it is required that the vertical stress at the base
calculated with the Meyerhof-type distribution, as discussed in (d) above, does not
exceed the allowable bearing capacity of the foundation soil determined, considering
a safety factor of 2.5 with respect to Group I loading applied to the ultimate bearing
capacity:
v # q a 

qult

(26)

FS

A lesser FS of 2.0 could be used if justified by a geotechnical analysis which


calculates settlement and determines it to be acceptable.
Calculation steps for an MSE wall with a sloping surcharge are as follows:
(1) Obtain the eccentricity e of the resulting force at the base of the wall. Remember
that under preliminary sizing if the eccentricity exceeded L/6, the reinforcement
length at the base was increased.
(2) Calculate the vertical stress v at the base assuming Meyerhof-type distribution:

v 

V1V2FT sin

(27)

L2e

(3) Determine the ultimate bearing capacity qult using classical soil mechanics
methods, e.g. for a level grade in front of the wall and no groundwater influence:
qult  cf Nc  0.5 (L)f N

-95-

(28)

where cf is the cohesion, f the unit weight and Nc and N are dimensionless
bearing capacity coefficients. The dimensionless bearing capacity factors can be
obtained from 4.4.7.1A of 1996 AASHTO and, for convenience, are shown in
table 12. Modifications to qult (equation 28) for a ground surface slope and for
high groundwater level are provided in 4.4.7.1.1.4 and 4.4.7.1.1.6, respectively,
of 1996 AASHTO. Again, the beneficial effect of wall embedment is neglected.
(Note: for excessive embedment, some partial embedment may be considered
in the determination of qult. Bearing capacity is addressed in detail in the NHI
course 132037 Shallow Foundations and course reference manual.
(4) Check that:
v # q a  qult /FS

(26)

(5) As indicated in step (2) and step (3), v can be decreased and qult increased by
lengthening the reinforcements. If adequate support conditions cannot be
achieved or lengthening reinforcements significantly increases costs,
improvement of the foundation soil is needed (dynamic compaction, soil
replacement, stone columns, precompression) etc.
!

Local Shear
To prevent large horizontal movements of the structure on weak cohesive soils:
H # 3c

(29)

If adequate support conditions cannot be achieved, ground improvement of the


foundation soils is indicated.
g.

Overall Stability
Overall stability is determined using rotational or wedge analyses, as appropriate, which can
be performed using a classical slope stability analysis method. Computer programs are
available for these analyses as illustrated by the design example at the end of this chapter.
The reinforced soil wall is considered as a rigid body and only failure surfaces completely
outside a reinforced mass are considered. For simple structures with rectangular geometry,
relatively uniform reinforcement spacing, and a near vertical face, compound failures passing
both through the unreinforced and reinforced zones will not generally be critical. However,
if complex conditions exist such as changes in reinforced soil types or reinforcement
lengths, high surcharge loads, sloping faced structures, significant slopes at the toe or
above the wall, or stacked structures, compound failures must be considered.
If the minimum safety factor is less than the usually recommended minimum FS of 1.3,
increase the reinforcement length or improve the foundation soil.

-96-

Table 12. Bearing Capacity Factors

Nc

Nc

Nq

5.14

1.00

0.00

26

22.25

11.85

12.54

5.38

1.09

0.07

27

23.94

13.20

14.47

5.63

1.20

0.15

28

25.80

14.72

16.72

5.90

1.31

0.24

29

27.86

16.44

19.34

6.19

1.43

0.34

30

30.14

18.40

22.40

6.49

1.57

0.45

31

32.67

20.63

25.90

6.81

1.72

0.57

32

35.49

23.18

30.22

7.16

1.88

0.71

33

38.64

26.09

35.19

7.53

2.06

0.86

34

42.16

29.44

41.06

7.92

2.25

1.03

35

46.12

33.30

48.03

10

8.35

2.47

1.22

36

50.59

37.75

56.31

11

8.80

2.71

1.44

37

55.63

42.92

66.19

12

9.28

2.97

1.69

38

61.35

48.93

78.03

13

9.81

3.26

1.97

39

37.87

55.96

92.25

14

10.37

3.59

2.29

40

75.31

64.20

109.41

15

10.98

3.94

2.65

41

83.86

73.90

130.22

16

11.63

4.34

3.06

42

93.71

85.38

155.55

17

12.34

4.77

3.53

43

105.11

99.02

186.54

18

13.10

5.26

4.07

44

118.37

115.31

224.64

19

13.93

5.80

4.68

45

133.88

134.88

271.76

20

14.83

6.40

5.39

46

152.10

158.51

330.35

21

15.82

7.07

6.20

47

173.64

187.21

403.67

22

16.88

7.82

7.13

48

199.26

222.31

496.01

23

18.05

8.66

8.20

49

229.93

265.51

613.16

24

19.32

9.60

9.44

50

266.89

319.07

762.89

25

20.72

10.66

10.88

Nq

-97-

h.

Seismic Loading
During an earthquake, the retained fill exerts a dynamic horizontal thrust, PAE, on the MSE
wall in addition to the static thrust. Moreover, the reinforced soil mass is subjected to a
horizontal inertia force PIR = M Am, where M is the mass of the active portion of the
reinforced wall section assumed at a base width of 0.5H, and Am is the maximum horizontal
acceleration in the reinforced soil wall.
Force PAE can be evaluated by the pseudo-static Mononobe-Okabe analysis as shown in
figure 27 and added to the static forces acting on the wall (weight, surcharge, and static
thrust). The dynamic stability with respect to external stability is then evaluated. Allowable
minimum dynamic safety factors are assumed as 75 percent of the static safety
factors. The equation for PAE (equation 32a only) was developed assuming a horizontal
backfill, a friction angle of 30 degrees and may be adjusted for other soil friction angles using
the Mononobe-Okabe method with the horizontal acceleration equal to Am and vertical
acceleration equal to zero.
The seismic external stability evaluation is performed as follows:
!

Select a peak horizontal ground acceleration based on the design earthquake. The
ground acceleration coefficient may be obtained from Division 1A of current
AASHTO where it is given as A, Acceleration Coefficient.

Calculate the maximum acceleration Am developed in the wall:


Am = (1.45 - A) A

where:

(30)

A = max. ground acceleration coefficient, AASHTO, Division 1A.


Am = max. wall acceleration coefficient at the centroid of the wall mass.

Calculate the horizontal inertia force PIR and seismic thrust PAE:
PIR = 0.5 AmrH2 (Horizontal backslope)
PAE = 0.375 Am fH2

(Horizontal backslope)

(31)
(32a)

Add to the static forces (see figure 27) acting on the structure, 50 percent of the
seismic thrust PAE and the full inertial force PIR. The reduced PAE is used because
these two forces are unlikely to peak simultaneously.

-98-

Figure 27. Seismic external stability of a MSE wall.


-99-

For structures with sloping backfills, the inertial force (PIR) and the dynamic
horizontal thrust (PAE) shall be based on a height H2 near the back of the wall mass
determined as follows:
H2  H 

tan @ 0.5H
(1  0.5tan)

(33)

PAE may be adjusted for sloping backfills using Mononobe-Okabe method, with the
horizontal acceleration kh equal to Am and kv equal to zero. A height of H2 should be used
to calculate PAE in this case. PIR for sloping backfills should be calculated as follows:
PIR =

Pir + Pis

(34)

Pir =

0.5 Am f H2H

(35)

Pis =

0.125 Am f (H2)2 tan

(36)

PAE =

0.5 f (H2)2 KAE (sloping backfill)

and
(32 b)

where Pir is the inertial force caused by acceleration of the reinforced backfill and Pis is the
inertial force caused by acceleration of the sloping soil surcharge above the reinforced
backfill, with the width of mass contributing to PIR equal to 0.5H2. Pir acts at the combined
centroid of Pir and Pis as shown on figure 27. The total seismic earth pressure coefficient KAE
based on the Mononobe-Okabe general expression is computed from:
cos2 (   90  )

KAE 

cos cos2 (90  ) cos (I  90   ) 1 

sin (  I) sin (   I)
cos (I  90   ) cos (I  90  )

(37a)

where:
I

=
=
=
=

the backfill slope angle = (See Figures 24 and 25)


arc tan (Kh/1 - Kv)
the soil angle of friction
the slope angle of the face (See Figure 22)

To complete design:
!

Evaluate sliding stability, eccentricity and bearing capacity as detailed in the previous
sections.

Check that the computed safety factors are equal to or greater than 75 percent of the
minimum static safety factors, and that the eccentricity falls within L/3 for both soil
and rock.
-100-

Relatively large earthquake shaking (i.e. A $ 0.29) could result in significant permanent
lateral and vertical wall deformations even if limit equilibrium criteria are met. In
seismically active areas where such strong shaking could exist, a specialist should be retained
to evaluate the anticipated deformation response of the structure.
The use of the full value of Am for Kh in the Mononobe-Okabe method assumes that no wall
lateral displacement is allowed. When using the Mononobe-Okabe method, this assumptions
can result in excessively conservative wall designs. To provide a more economical structure,
design for a small tolerable displacement rather than no displacement may be preferred. The
1996 AASHTO Specifications for Highway Bridges (with 1998 Interims), Article 5.2.2.4,
in combination with Division 1A, Articles 6.4.3 and 7.4.3, allow Mononobe-Okabe earth
pressure to be reduced to a residual seismic earth pressure behind the wall resulting from an
outward lateral movement of the wall. This reduced seismic earth pressure is calculated
through the use of reduced acceleration coefficient for Kh, which accounts for the allowance
of some lateral wall displacement. This reduced Kh can be determined through a Newmark
sliding block analysis, though the complexity of this type of analysis is beyond the scope of
this manual.(28) A reduced Kh can be used for any gravity or semi-gravity wall if the
following conditions are met:
!
!
!

The wall system and any structures supported by the wall can tolerate lateral
movement resulting from sliding of the structure.
The wall is unrestrained regarding its ability to slide, other than soil friction along its
base and minimal soil passive resistance.
If the wall functions as an abutment, the top of the wall must also be unrestrained,
e.g., the superstructure is supported by sliding bearings.

The 1996 AASHTO Specifications for Highway Bridges (with 1998 Interims), Division 1A,
Articles 6.4.3 and 7.4.3, provide an approximation of this reduction to account for lateral
wall displacement. The Kh used for Mononobe-Okabe analysis of gravity and semi-gravity
free standing and abutment walls may be reduced to 0.5A, provided that displacements up
to 250 A mm are acceptable. Kavazanjian et al.(29) developed an expression for Kh (i.e., N,
the peak seismic resistance coefficient sustainable by the wall before it slides), and further
simplified the Newmark analysis by assuming the ground velocity in the absence information
on the time history of the ground motion, to be equal to 30A. For MSE walls the maximum
wall acceleration coefficient at the centroid of the wall mass, Am (eq. 30), is used with this
expression, and Kh is computed as:

A
Kh = 166
. Am m
d

0.25

(37b)

where, d is the lateral wall displacement in mm. It should be noted that this equation
should not be used for displacements of less than 25 mm (1 inch) or greater than
approximately 200 mm (8 inches). It is recommended that this reduced acceleration value
only be used for external stability calculations, to be consistent with the concept of the MSE
wall behaving as a rigid block. Internally, the lateral deformation response of the MSE wall
-101-

is much more complex, and at present it is not clear how much the acceleration coefficient
could decrease due to the allowance of some lateral deformation during seismic loading.
In general, typical practice among states located in seismically active areas is to design walls
for reduced seismic pressure corresponding to 50 to 100 mm (2 to 4 inches) of displacement.
However, the amount of deformation which is tolerable will depend on the nature of the wall
and what it supports, as well as what is in front of the wall.
By applying Equation 37b to an allowable displacement and a site specific Am values, Kh can
be determined as a fraction of Am for use in design.
It is recommended that this simplified approach not be used for walls which have a complex
geometry, such as described in Chapter 5, for walls which are very tall (over 15 m), nor for
walls where peak ground acceleration A is 0.3 g or higher.
i.

Settlement Estimate
Conventional settlement analyses should be carried out to ensure that immediate,
consolidation, and secondary settlement of the wall are less than the performance
requirements of the project (See FHWA, Soils and Foundations Reference Manual).(20)
Significant total settlements at the end of construction, indicate that the planned top of wall
elevations need to be adjusted. This can be accomplished by increasing the top of wall
elevations during design, but more practically, by delaying the casting of the top row of
panels to the end of erection. The required height of the top row, would then be determined
with possible further allowance for continuing settlements. Significant differential
settlements (greater than 1/100), indicate the need of slip joints, which allow for independent
vertical movement of adjacent precast panels. Where the anticipated settlements and their
duration, cannot be accommodated by these measures, consideration must be given to ground
improvement techniques such as wick drains, stone columns, dynamic compaction, the use
of lightweight fill or the implementation of multistage construction in which the first stage
facing is typically a wire facing.

4.3

SIZING FOR INTERNAL STABILITY

Internal failure of a MSE wall can occur in two different ways:


!

The tensile forces (and, in the case of rigid reinforcements, the shear forces) in the inclusions
become so large that the inclusions elongate excessively or break, leading to large
movements and possible collapse of the structure. This mode of failure is called failure by
elongation or breakage of the reinforcements.

The tensile forces in the reinforcements become larger than the pullout resistance, i.e., the
force required to pull the reinforcement out of the soil mass. This, in turn, increases the
shear stresses in the surrounding soil, leading to large movements and possible collapse of
the structure. This mode of failure is called failure by pullout.
-102-

The process of sizing and designing to preclude internal failure, therefore, consists of determining
the maximum developed tension forces, their location along a locus of critical slip surfaces and the
resistance provided by the reinforcements both in pullout capacity and tensile strength.
Schematically, the design process can be illustrated as follows:
Evaluate static and dynamic internal stability

Select wall facing and backfill reinforcement type

Inextensible reinforcement

Extensible reinforcement

Reinforcement load level calculation

Reinforcement load level calculation by

Maximum load
level

Load level at
connection to face

Maximum load
level

Load level at
connection to face

Assess backfill
make corrosion
calculations

Assess backfill
make corrosion
calculations

Assess backfill
develop
allowable
strength
calculations

Assess backfill
develop
allowable
strength
calculations

Equate allowable
stress to applied
max. tensile stress

Equate allowable
stress to applied
connection stress

Equate allowable
stress to applied
max. tensile stress

Equate allowable
stress to applied
connection stress

Adjust soil reinforcement density to meet both max. and connection strength requirements

Calculate reinforcement length required to be stable against pullout

Design facing elements for the stress at wall face

Design details for wall

-103-

The step by step internal design process is as follows:


!

Select a reinforcement type (inextensible or extensible).

Select the location of the critical failure surface.

Select a reinforcement spacing compatible with the facing.

Calculate the maximum tensile force at each reinforcement level, static and dynamic.

Calculate the maximum tensile force at the connection to the facing.

Calculate the pullout capacity at each reinforcement level.

a.

Critical Slip Surfaces


The most critical slip surface in a simple reinforced soil wall is assumed to coincide with the
maximum tensile forces line (i.e., the locus of the maximum tensile force, Tmax, in each
reinforcement layer). The shape and location of this line is assumed to be known for simple
structures from a large number of previous experiments and theoretical studies.
This maximum tensile forces surface has been assumed to be approximately bilinear in the
case of inextensible reinforcements (figure 28), approximately linear in the case of extensible
reinforcements (figure 28), and passes through the toe of the wall in both cases.
When failure develops, the reinforcement may elongate and be deformed at its intersection
with the failure surface. As a result, the tensile force in the reinforcement would increase and
rotate. Consequently, the component in the direction of the failure surface would increase
and the normal component may increase or decrease. Elongation and rotation of the
reinforcements may be negligible for stiff inextensible reinforcements such as steel strips but
may be significant with geosynthetics. Where the wall front batter is greater than 8 degrees
the Coulomb earth pressure relationship shown on figure 28b may be used to define the
failure surface.

b.

Calculation of Maximum Tensile Forces in the Reinforcement Layers


Recent research studies have indicated that the maximum tensile force is primarily related
to the type of reinforcement in the MSE mass, which, in turn, is a function of the modulus,
extensibility and density of reinforcement. Based on this research, a relationship between
the type of the reinforcement and the overburden stress has been developed, and shown in
figure 29. The resulting K/Ka for inextensible reinforcements ratio decreases from the top
of wall to a constant value below 6 m (20 ft).
The simplified approach used herein was developed in order to avoid iterative design
procedures required by some of the complex refinements of the available methods i.e., the
coherent gravity method (AASHTO, 1994 Interims) and the structure stiffness method
-104-

(FHWA RD 89-043). The simplified coherent gravity method is based on the same empirical
data used to develop these two methods.
This graphical figure was prepared by back analysis of the lateral stress ratio K from
available field data where stresses in the reinforcements have been measured and normalized
as a function of an active earth pressure coefficient, Ka. The ratios shown on figure 29
correspond to values representative of the specific reinforcement systems that are known to
give satisfactory results assuming that the vertical stress is equal to the weight of the
overburden (H). This provides a simplified evaluation method for all cohesionless
reinforced fill walls. Future data may lead to modifications in figure 29, including
relationships for newly developed reinforcement types, effect of full height panels, etc.
The lateral earth pressure coefficient K is determined by applying a multiplier to the active
earth pressure coefficient. The active earth pressure coefficient is determined using a
Coulomb earth pressure relationship, assuming no wall friction and a angle equal to zero.
For a vertical wall the earth pressure therefore reduces to the Rankine equation:
Ka  Tan 2 (45/2)

(15)
For wall face batters equal to or greater than 8 degrees from the vertical, the following
simplified form of the Coulomb equation can be used:
Ka 

sin2 ()
sin3 1 

sin
sin

(38)

where is the inclination of the back of the facing as measured from the horizontal starting
in front of the wall.
The vertical stress (H) is the result of gravity forces from soil self weight within and
immediately above the reinforced wall backfill, and any surcharge loads present. Vertical
stress for maximum reinforcement load calculations are shown on figure 30.
Calculations steps are as follows:
(1)

Calculate at each reinforcement level the horizontal stresses H along the potential
failure line from the weight of the retained fill rZ plus, if present, uniform surcharge
loads q concentrated surcharge loads v and h.
H  K r v  h
where

(39)

v  r Z  2  q  v

where: Kr = K(z) is shown in figure 29 and Z is the depth referenced below the top
of wall, excluding any copings and appurtenances and 2 as shown in figure 30.
-105-

Figure 28. Location of potential failure surface for internal stability design of MSE walls.

-106-

Figure 29. Variation of stress ratio with depth in a MSE wall.

-107-

Figure 30. Calculation of vertical stress for sloping backslope conditions.

-108-

v is the increment of vertical stress due to concentrated vertical loads using a


2V:1H pyramidal distribution as shown in figure 31.
h is the increment of horizontal stress due to horizontal concentrated surcharges,
if any, and calculated as shown in figure 32. Static equivalent loads for traffic
barriers should be included based on current AASHTO, Section 5.8.
(2)

Calculate the maximum tension Tmax in each reinforcement layer per unit width of
wall based on the vertical spacing Sv from:
Tmax  H @ Sv

(40a)

Tmax may be also be calculated at each level for discrete reinforcements (metal strips,
bar mats, geogrids, etc.) per a defined unit length of wall face, from:
Tmax 

H @ S v
Rc

(40b)

Alternatively for discrete reinforcements and segmental precast concrete facing, Tmax
is often more conveniently calculated per tributary area At, defined as the area equal
to the two (2) panel widths times the vertical spacing sv.

Tmax = H At
(3)

(40c)

Calculate internal stability with respect to breakage of the reinforcement. Stability


with respect to breakage of the reinforcements requires that:

Ta $

Tmax

(41)

Rc

where Rc is the coverage ratio b/Sh, with b the gross width of the reinforcing element, and
Sh is the center-to-center horizontal spacing between reinforcements (e.g., Rc = 1 for full
coverage reinforcement). Ta is the allowable tension force per unit width of the
reinforcement.
The connection of the reinforcements with the facing, shall be designed for Tmax for all
loading conditions (1998 AASHTO Interim).

-109-

Figure 31. Distribution of stress from concentrated vertical load Pv for internal and external
stability calculations.

-110-

Figure 32. Distribution of stresses from concentrated horizontal loads.

-111-

c.

Internal Stability with Respect to Pullout Failure


Stability with respect to pullout of the reinforcements requires that the following criteria be
satisfied:
Tmax #

where:

1
F  Zp L e C Rc
FSPO

(42)

FSPO = Safety factor against pullout $ 1.5.


Tmax =

Maximum reinforcement tension.

2 for strip, grid, and sheet type reinforcement.

Scale correction factor.

F*

Pullout resistance factor (see chapter 3).

Rc

Coverage ratio.

Zp

The overburden pressure, including distributed dead load surcharges,


neglecting traffic loads. (See figure 30)

Le

The length of embedment in the resisting zone. Note that the


boundary between the resisting and active zones may be modified by
concentrated loadings.

Therefore, the required embedment length in the resistance zone (i.e., beyond the potential
failure surface) can be determined from:

Le $

1.5 Tmax


C F Z p R c

$ 1 m

(43)

Note that traffic loads and other live loads are not included for pullout calculations as
indicated on figure 23.
If the criterion is not satisfied for all reinforcement layers, the reinforcement length has to
be increased and/or reinforcement with a greater pullout resistance per unit width must be
used, or the vertical spacing may be reduced which would reduce Tmax
.
The total length of reinforcement, L, required for internal stability is then determined from:
L = La + Le

(44)

-112-

where: La is obtained from figure 28 for simple structures not supporting concentrated
external loads such as bridge abutments. Based on this figure the following
relationships can be obtained for La:
For MSE walls with extensible reinforcement, vertical face and horizontal backfill:
La = (H - Z) tan (45 - /2)

(45)

where: Z is the depth to the reinforcement level.


For walls with inextensible reinforcement from the base up to H/2:
La = 0.6 (H-Z)

(46)

For the upper half of a wall with inextensible reinforcements:


La = 0.3H

(47)

For construction ease, a final uniform length is commonly chosen, based on the maximum
length required. However, if internal stability controls the length, it could be varied from the
base, increasing with the height of the wall to the maximum length requirement based on a
combination of internal and maximum external stability requirements. See chapter 5, section
5.3 for additional guidance.

d.

Seismic Loading
Seismic loads produce an inertial force PI (see figure 33) acting horizontally, in addition to
the existing static forces.
This force will lead to incremental dynamic increases in the maximum tensile forces in the
reinforcements. It is assumed that the location and slope of the maximum tensile force line
does not change during seismic loading. Calculation steps for internal stability analyses with
respect to seismic loading are as follows (see figure 33).
(1)

Calculate the maximum acceleration in the wall and the force PI per unit width acting
above the base:
PI = Am WA

(48)

Am = (1.45 - A) A

(30)

where: WA is the weight of the active zone (shaded area on figure 33) and A is the
AASHTO site acceleration coefficient and where Am may be reduced based
on the permissible lateral movement as discussed in 4.2.

-113-

(2)

Calculate the total maximum static load applied to the reinforcements horizontal Tmax
as follows:
Calculate horizontal stress H using K coefficient (previously developed)
H = Kv + h = KZ + v K + h

(39)

Calculate the maximum tensile load component Tmax per unit width:
Tmax = Sv H
(3)

(40)

Calculate the dynamic increment Tmd directly induced by the inertia force PI in the
reinforcements by distributing PI in the different reinforcements proportionally to
their "resistant area" (Le) on a load per unit wall width basis. This leads to:
T md  PI

L ei

(49)

n
j (L ei)
i  1

which is the resistant length of the reinforcement at level i divided by the sum of the
resistant length for all reinforcement levels.
(4)

The maximum tensile force is:


Ttotal  Tmax  T md

(50)

Check stability with respect to breakage and pullout of the reinforcement, with
seismic safety factors of 75 percent of the minimum allowable static safety factor.
For rupture of steel reinforcements, this leads to:

Ta >

Ttotal (0.75)

(51a)

Rc

For geosynthetic reinforcement rupture, the reinforcement must be designed to resist the
static and dynamic component of the load as follows:
For the static component,
Tmax #

S rs x Rc

(51b)

(0.75) RF x FS

-114-

Figure 33. Seismic internal stability of a MSE wall.

-115-

For the dynamic component, where the load is applied for a short time, creep reduction is not
required and therefore,
T md #

Srt x Rc

(51c)

(0.75) FS @ RFD @ RFID

Therefore, the ultimate strength of the geosynthetic reinforcement required is,


Tult  S rs  Srt

(51d)

where Srs is the reinforcement strength per unit width needed to resist the static component
of load and Srt the reinforcement strength needed to resist the dynamic or transient
component of load.
For pullout under seismic loading, for all reinforcements, the friction coefficient F* should
be reduced to 80 percent of the static value, leading to:
Ttotal #

P r Rc
0.75 FSPO

C @ (0.8F )
@ Z  @ Le Rc

0.75 @ 1.5

(52)

The recommended design method with respect to seismic loading was developed for
inextensible reinforcements but it is also applicable to extensible reinforcements. The
extensibility of the reinforcements affects the overall stiffness of the reinforced soil mass.
As extensible reinforcement reduces the overall stiffness it is expected to have an influence
on the design diagram of the lateral earth pressure induced by the seismic loading. As the
overall stiffness decreases, damping should increase and amplification may also increase.
Thus, the resulting inertia force may not be much different than for inextensible
reinforcement. Additional research is needed to justify any variation based on reinforcement
extensibility.
e.

Connection Strength
The metallic reinforcements for MSE systems constructed with segmental precast panels are
structurally connected to the facing by either bolting the reinforcement to a tie strip cast in
the panel or connected with a bar connector to suitable anchorage devices in the panels. The
capacity of the embedded connector as an anchorage must be checked by tests as required
by Section 8.31 of 1992 AASHTO for each geometry used. The design load at the
connection is equal the maximum load on the reinforcement.
Polyethylene geogrid reinforcements may be structurally connected to segmental precast
panels by casting a tab of the geogrid into the panel and connecting to the full length of
geogrid with a bodkin joint, as illustrated in figure 34. A slat of polyethylene may be used
for the bodkin, though rigid PVC pipes have also been used. Extreme care should be
exercised to eliminate slack from the connection. Alternatively, certain HDPE geogrids are
-116-

connected to the facing by inserting the thicker transverse members of the geogrids in a slot
cast in the back face of the panels.
Polyester geogrids and geotextiles should not be cast into concrete for connections, due to
potential chemical degradation. Other types of geotextiles also are not cast into concrete for
connections due to fabrication and field connection requirements.
MSE walls constructed with MBW units are connected either by a structural connection
subject to verification under AASHTO Article 8.31 or by friction between the units and the
reinforcement, including the friction developed from the aggregate contained within the core
of the units or by a combination of friction and shear from connection devices. This strength
will vary with each unit depending on its geometry, unit batter, normal pressure and depth
of unit. The connection strength is therefore specific to each unit/reinforcement combination
and must be developed uniquely by test for each combination. Recommended test
procedures are included in appendix A.

Figure 34. Bodkin connection detail.

-117-

The recommended procedure for developing allowable connection strength Tac requires that
this strength is the lesser of:
!

The design allowable strength of the reinforcement (Ta) as developed in Chapter 3,


Establishment of Structural Design Properties;

The connection strength, Tac developed by friction or structural means where CRcr is
as determined in appendix A.3 based on long term pullout testing. The connection
strength as developed by long term pullout testing is reduced for long term
environmental aging, and divided by a factor of safety of at least 1.5 for permanent
structures, as follows:
Tac #

T ult @ CRcr

(53a)

RFD @ FS

Where bodkin joints or geotextile seams are used to connect reinforcement near the
facing, a reduced connection strength based on ASTM D 4884 must be determined.
Tac for this situation is determined as follows:

Tac

Tult CRu
RFCR RFD FS

(53b)

Note that the environment at the connection may not be the same as the environment within
the MSE mass. Therefore, the long-term environmental aging factor (RFD) may be
significantly different than that used in computing the allowable reinforcement strength Ta.
The connection strength as developed above is a function of normal pressure which is
developed by the weight of the units. Thus, it will vary from a minimum in the upper portion
of the structure to a maximum near the bottom of the structure for walls with no batter.
Further, since many MBW walls are constructed with a front batter, the column weight above
the base of the wall or above any other interface may not correspond to the weight of the
facing units above the reference elevation. The concept is shown in figure 35 which
develops a hinge height concept.(2) Hence, for walls with a nominal batter of more than 8
degrees, the normal stress is limited to the lesser of the hinge height or the height of the wall
above the interface. This vertical pressure range should be used in developing CRcr.
This recommendation is based on recent research findings which indicated that the hinge
height concept is overly conservative for walls with small batters.(22)
For geosynthetic connections subject to seismic loading, the long term connection strength
must be greater than Tmax+Tmd. Where the long-term connection strength is partially or fully
dependent on friction between the facing blocks and the reinforcement, and connection

-118-

Figure 35. Determination of hinge height for modular concrete block faced MSE walls.

-119-

pullout is the controlling failure mode, the long-term connection strength to resist seismic
loads shall be reduced to 80 percent of its static value.
For the static component,
Tmax #

S rs x CRcr

(54a)

FS x RFD

For the dynamic component,


T md # 0.8

S rt x CRult

(54b)

FS x RFD

The reinforcement strength required for the static component, Srs, must be added to the
reinforcement strength required for the dynamic component, Srt, to determine the total
ultimate strength required for the reinforcement, TULT. A factor of safety of 1.1 may be used
for both the static and dynamic components in seismic design of the connection.
Therefore, it is presently recommended that fully frictional connections not be used in
locations where the combined seismic performance category is C or higher (A $0.19).
f.

Reinforcement Spacing
Use of a constant reinforcement section and spacing for the full height of the wall usually
gives more reinforcement near the top of the wall than is required for stability. Therefore,
a more economical design may be possible by varying the reinforcement density with depth.
However, to provide a coherent reinforced soil mass, vertical spacing of primary
reinforcement should not exceed 800 mm (32 inches).
There are generally two practical ways to accomplish this for MSE walls with segmental
precast concrete facings:
!

For reinforcements consisting of strips, grids, or mats, the vertical spacing is


maintained constant and the reinforcement density is increased with depth by
increasing the number and/or the size of the reinforcements. For instance, the
horizontal spacing of 50 mm (2-inch) x 4 mm (5/32-inch) strips is usually 0.75 m (30
inches), although the horizontal reinforcement spacing can be decreased by adding
reinforcement locations.

For continuous sheet reinforcements, made of geotextiles or geogrids, a common way


of varying the reinforcement density Ta/Sv is to change the vertical spacing Sv,
especially if wrapped facing is used, because it easily accommodates spacing
variations. The range of acceptable spacings is governed by consideration of
placement and compaction of the backfill (e.g. Sv taken as 1, 2 or 3 times the
-120-

compacted lift thickness). The reinforcement density Ta/Sv can also be varied by
changing the strength (Ta) especially if wrapped facing techniques requiring a
constant wrap height are used.
Low-to medium-height walls (e.g., <5 m) are usually constructed with one strength
geosynthetic. Taller walls use multiple strength geosynthetics. For example the 12.6
m (41 ft) high Seattle preload wall used four strengths of geotextiles(30). A maximum
spacing of 500 mm (20 inches) is typical for wrapped faced geosynthetic walls,
although a smaller spacing is desirable to minimize bulging.
!

For walls constructed with modular blocks and deriving their connection capacity by
friction, the maximum vertical spacing of reinforcement should be limited to two
times the block depth (front face to back face) to assure construction and long term
stability. The top row of reinforcement should be at one-half the vertical spacing.

4.4

DESIGN OF FACING ELEMENTS

a.

Design of Concrete, Steel and Timber Facings


Facing elements are designed to resist the horizontal forces developed in Section 4.3.
Reinforcement is provided to resist the average loading conditions at each depth in
accordance with structural design requirements in Section 8, 10 and 13 of AASHTO for
concrete, steel and timber facings, respectively. Allowable stresses for seismic design may
be increased by 50 percent for steel, 33 percent for concrete and 50 percent for timber. The
embedment of the soil reinforcement to panel connector must be developed by test, to ensure
that it can resist the design Tmax forces.
As a minimum, temperature and shrinkage steel must be provided for segmental precast
facing. Epoxy protection of panel reinforcement where salt spray is anticipated is
recommended.

b.

Design of Flexible Wall Facings


Welded wire or similar facing panels shall be designed in a manner which prevents the
occurrence of excessive bulging as backfill behind the facing elements compresses due to
compaction stresses, self weight of the backfill or lack of section modulus. Bulging at the
face between soil reinforcement elements in both the horizontal and vertical direction should
be limited to 25 to 50 mm (1 to 2 inches) as measured from the theoretical wall line. This
may be accomplished by requiring the placement of a nominal 600 mm (2 ft) wide zone of
rockfill or cobbles directly behind the facing, decreasing the spacing between reinforcements
vertically and horizontally, increasing the section modulus of the facing material and by
providing sufficient overlap between adjacent facing panels. In addition, the reinforcements
must not be restrained and have the ability to slide vertically with respect to the facing
material. Furthermore, the top of the flexible facing panel at the top of the wall shall be
attached to a soil reinforcement layer to provide stability to the top facing panel.

-121-

For modular concrete facing blocks (MBW), sufficient inter-unit shear capacity must be
available, and the maximum spacing between reinforcement layers shall be limited to twice
the front to back width, Wu (see figure 35), of the modular concrete facing unit or 0.8 m (32
inches) whichever is less. The maximum facing height above the uppermost reinforcement
layer and the maximum depth of facing below the bottom reinforcement layer should be
limited to the width, Wu (see figure 35), of the modular concrete facing unit used.
The inter-unit shear capacity as obtained by testing (Test Method SRWU-2, NCMA) at the
appropriate normal load should exceed the horizontal earth pressure at the facing by a Factor
of Safety of 2.(2)
For seismic performance categories "C" or higher (AASHTO Division 1A), facing
connections in modular block faced walls (MBW) shall not be fully dependent on frictional
resistance between the backfill reinforcement and facing blocks. Shear resisting devices
between the facing blocks and soil reinforcement such as shear keys, pins, etc. shall be used.
For connections partially or fully dependent on friction between the facing blocks and the
soil reinforcement, the long-term connection strength Tac, should be reduced to 80 percent
of its static value. Further, the blocks above the uppermost layer soil reinforcement layer
must be secured against toppling under all seismic events.
Geosynthetic facing elements should not be left exposed to sunlight (specifically ultraviolet
radiation) for permanent walls. If geosynthetic facing elements must be left exposed
permanently to sunlight, the geosynthetic shall be stabilized to be resistant to ultraviolet
radiation. Furthermore, product specific test data should be provided which can be
extrapolated to the intended design life and which proves that the product will be capable of
performing as intended in an exposed environment. Alternately a protective facing shall be
constructed in addition (e.g., concrete, shotcrete, etc.).

4.5

DESIGN DETAILS

The successful implementation of MSE wall projects often depends on certain design details not
directly connected with internal or external stability considerations. Common details requiring
consideration and analysis, with provided guidance, include:
di.

Traffic Barriers
The impact traffic load on barriers constructed over the front face of MSE walls, must be
designed to resist the overturning moment by their own mass in accordance with Article 5.8
of current AASHTO.
The current AASHTO impact force is 45 kN (10,000 lbs) applied at a height of 850 mm
(33.4 inches) above the roadway. This impact force, adds an additional horizontal force of
29 kN per linear meter (2,000 lbs/foot) to the upper 2 rows of reinforcement, which the
reinforcements can resist over their full length. This additional force should be apportioned
b to the upper row and a to the second row. Where the impact barrier moment slab is cast
integrally with a concrete pavement, the additional force may be neglected.
-122-

For geosynthetic reinforcements, the geosynthetic allowable strength used to structurally size
the reinforcements to resist the impact load may be increased by eliminating the reduction
factor for creep, as was done for internal seismic design in section 4.3d.
For the currently specified impact loads, the detail shown in figure 36 has been successfully
used. Typically, the base slab length is 6 m (20 feet) and jointed to adjacent slabs with shear
dowels. Parapet reinforcement shall be designed in accordance with AASHTO Article 2.7.
The anchoring slab shall be strong enough to resist the ultimate strength of the standard
parapet.
Flexible post and beam barriers, when used, shall be placed at a minimum distance of 1.0 m
(3.3 ft) from the wall face, driven 1.5 m (5 ft) below grade, and spaced to miss the
reinforcements where possible. If the reinforcements cannot be missed, the wall shall be
designed accounting for the presence of an obstruction. The upper two rows of
reinforcement shall be designed for an additional horizontal load of 4,400 N per linear meter
(300 lb/lft) of wall, which should be apportioned b to the upper row and a to the second
row.

Figure 36. Impact load barrier.

-123-

b.

Drainage Systems
For side hill construction, drainage blankets are highly recommended to collect and divert
groundwater from the reinforced soil mass. A common detail is shown on figure 37.
Where significant use of de-icing salts is anticipated, impervious barriers beneath the
pavement structure and just above the reinforced fill zone have been used. A common detail
is shown in figure 38.
Where utilities must be placed parallel to the face of the wall, interference with the
reinforcement generally occurs. To be effective, the reinforcement can only be skewed
vertically for the limited heights as shown in figure 39.

c.

Termination to Cast-in-place Structures


The juncture of MSE walls and cast-in-place structures must be protected from loss of fines
and must allow for differential settlement between the two types of construction. A common
detail is shown in figure 40.

d.

Hydrostatic Pressures
For structures along rivers and canals, a minimum differential hydrostatic pressure equal to
1.0 m (3.3 ft) of wall shall be applied at the high-water level for the design flood event.
Effective unit weights shall be used in the calculations for internal and external stability
beginning at levels just below the equivalent surface of the pressure head line.
Situations where the wall is influenced by tide or river fluctuations may require that the wall
be designed for rapid drawdown conditions, which could result in differential hydrostatic
pressure considerably greater than 1.0 m (3.3 ft) or alternatively rapidly draining backfill
material such as shot rock or open graded coarse gravel be used as backfill. Backfill material
meeting the gradation requirements in chapter 8, section 8.8 is not considered to be rapid
draining.

e.

Obstructions in Reinforced Soil Zone


If the placement of an obstruction in the wall soil reinforcement zone such as a catch basin,
grate inlet, signal or sign foundation, guardrail post, or culvert cannot be avoided, the design
of the wall near the obstruction shall be modified using one of the following alternatives:
-

Assuming reinforcement layers must be partially or fully severed in the location of


the obstruction, design the surrounding reinforcement layers to carry the additional
load which would have been carried by the severed reinforcements.

-124-

Figure 37. Drainage blanket detail.

Figure 38. Impervious membrane details.

-125-

Figure 39. Reinforcing strip or mesh bend detail.

Figure 40. Connection detail of junctures of MSE walls and CIP structure.

-126-

Place a structural frame around the obstruction which is capable of carrying the load
from the reinforcements in front of the obstruction to reinforcement connected to the
structural frame behind the obstruction. This is illustrated in figure 41.

If the soil reinforcements consist of discrete strips or bar mats rather than continuous
sheets, depending on the size and location of the obstruction, it may be possible to
splay the reinforcements around the obstruction.

For the first alternative, the portion of the wall facing in front of the obstruction shall be
made stable against a toppling (overturning) or sliding failure. If this cannot be
accomplished, the soil reinforcements between the obstruction and the wall face can be
structurally connected to the obstruction such that the wall face does not topple, or the facing
elements can be structurally connected to adjacent facing elements to prevent this type of
failure.
For the second alternative, the frame and connections shall be designed in accordance with
AASHTO Article 10.32 for steel frames. Note that it may be feasible to connect the soil
reinforcement directly to the obstruction depending on the reinforcement type and the nature
of the obstruction.
For the third alternative, the splay angle, measured from a line perpendicular to the wall face,
shall be small enough that the splaying does not generate moment in the reinforcement or the
connection of the reinforcement to the wall face. The tensile capacity of the splayed
reinforcement shall be reduced by the cosine of the splay angle.
If the obstruction must penetrate through the face of the wall, the wall facing elements shall
be designed to fit around the obstruction such that the facing elements are stable (i.e., point
loads should be avoided) and such that wall backfill soil cannot spill through the wall face
where it joins the obstruction. To this end a collar next to the wall face around the
obstruction may be needed.
f.

Internal Details
Placement of well graded gravel immediately adjacent to modular blocks is recommended
for several reasons. Gravel has a high permeability that will not impede water flow out of
the reinforced mass and through the dry stacked modular blocks. Well graded gravel is not
prone to piping through joints between modular blocks. Gravel is also easily placed and
compacted, especially adjacent to elements such as modular blocks.
It is recommended that a minimum width of 0.3 m (1 ft) of well graded gravel be specified
immediately behind solid modular block units, as illustrated in figure 42. A minimum
volume of 0.3 m3 per m2 (1 ft3 per 1 ft2)of wall face is recommended for modular units with
cores, such as the unit illustrated in figure 43.

-127-

Figure 41. Obstruction details: a) conceptual; b) at inlet.

-128-

Figure 42. MBW drainage detail.

-129-

Figure 43. Drain fill placement for MBW with cores or tails.

Drainage gravel should be sized to be compatible with the MSE fill soil. Alternately, a
geotextile filter may be used to meet filtration requirements, as illustrated in figure 43, if the
gravel does not meet filtration criteria. Filtration design of geotextiles is addressed in the
FHWA Geosynthetics Design and Construction Guidelines along with a review of soil filter
criteria.
A reinforced fill with more than a few percent (3 to 5%) fines (i.e., % passing a 0.075 mm
sieve) is not free draining. Therefore, to provide proper long term functionality, a drainage
beneath and behind the reinforced zone it is strongly recommended where higher fines
content is anticipated, and where infiltration or groundwater is anticipated (which is the case
for most structures). An example of such a drainage system is illustrated in figure 42, for an
MBW unit faced structure.
A drain pipe is normally placed at the bottom of the column of well graded gravel, as
illustrated in figure 42, detail A. If a granular soil leveling pad is used in construction, the
drain pipe is placed to drain this zone as well.

-130-

4.6

DESIGN EXAMPLE Steel Strip Reinforcement

a.

Hand Calculation Example

A typical urban highway retaining wall design with inextensible steel linear reinforcements and
precast concrete panels will be illustrated using the sequential design procedure previously outlined.
Step 1:Establish design height, external loads.
-

Total design height H = 7.8 m, to gutter grade.

Required panel height = 7.5 m vertical.

Traffic surcharge and barrier required.


Barrier will be cast integrally to the concrete pavement.

Traffic surcharge = 9.4 kN/m2.

Seismic coefficient = 0.05 g, therefore no seismic design required.

Step 2:Establish engineering properties of foundation soils.


-

' = 30o. (clayey sand, dense)

Allowable bearing capacity - 300 kPa.

Differential settlements on the order of 1/300 are estimated.

Step 3:Establish engineering properties for retained and reinforced backfill.


-

= 30o, T = 18.8 kN/m3 for retained fill.

= 34o, T = 18.8 kN/m3 for reinforced backfill meeting the specifications in chapter
8, section 8.8.

F* = 2.0 based on Cu > 7.

Step 4:Establish design factors of safety.

External Stability FS.


-

Sliding = 1.5.

Maximum foundation pressure # allowable bearing capacity.

Eccentricity # L/6
-131-

Global stability $ 1.3.

Internal Stability FS.


-

Pullout $ 1.5.

Allowable stress - 0.55 Fy.

Design life = 75 years.

Step 5:

Choose facing type, reinforcement spacing and type.


-

Based on the urban location a precast concrete facing with an architectural finish is
required. For aesthetic reasons a maximum panel dimensions of 1.5 x 1.5 m (5 ft x
5 ft) are required with joints no greater than 19 mm (-inch). Since the estimated
differential settlements along the wall are 1/300, and precast panels are to be used,
panel joints of 19 mm (-inch) are acceptable.

Because of numerous subsurface drainage obstructions, linear galvanized ribbed strip


reinforcements are preferable and used in the preliminary design. Other
reinforcement types are technically feasible.

Given the panel size, the most efficient vertical spacing is 0.75 m, allowing for 2
rows of reinforcements per panel. The first row is located 375 mm from the topmost
panel plus 300 mm of barrier to pavement grade.

Step 6:Establish preliminary length for reinforcing strips.


-

For horizontal backfill slopes, L = 0.7 H is reasonable; therefore:


L = 0.7 H = 0.7 (7.8) = 5.5 m.

Step 7:Check external stability for L = 5.5 m.


-

Compute Ka for retained the fill, with a = 30 degrees


Ka  tan2 (45  /2)  0.33

Compute sliding FS at base:


FS 

V1 @ tan
' FH

-132-

V1  HL

 7.8 @ 5.5 @ 18.8

 806.5 kN/m

V2  qL

 9.4 @ 5.5

 51.7 kN/m

F1 

H 2K a

 18.8 @

F2  qHK a

 9.4 @ 7.8 @ 0.33

FS 

806.5 tan 30
 2.19 > 1.5
212.9

L

2

'MR  'MO
'V

with:
MR  V1 @ L/2

 2218 kN/m

MO  F1 @ H/3  F2 @ H/2

585 kN/m

0.92m

5.5

2

2218  585
806.5

 0.73 m <

L
6

Compute bearing pressure at base


v 

V1  V2
'V

L  2e
L2e
v 

Step 8:

 24.2 kN/m

Compute eccentricity at base:


e 

(7.8)2
@ 0.33  188.7 kN/m
2

858
 212 kPa < 300 kPa
5.5  (2 @ 0.73)

Determine internal stability at each reinforcement level and required horizontal


spacing.
-

Compute K at each level e.g. at Z = 2.92 m from surface

Ka = tan2 (45 - /2) = 0.28 for reinforced fill


-133-

from figure 29, and K at 2.92 m


K = 0.412
-

Compute H at this level per unit width


v = Z " + q = 2.92 " 18.8 + 9.4
v = 64.4 kPa
H = v " K = 64.4 " 0.412 = 26.5 kPa
The impact barrier will not transfer stress to reinforced volume because it is cast to
the concrete pavement structure for the full width of the roadway.

The horizontal spacing is initially determined from pullout considerations by using


for convenience a distance over 2 panel widths centered by the reinforcements at each
level rather than a unit wall width and the reinforcement coverage ratio Rc. The
maximum force on this defined tributary area At is:
At = Sv x 2 panel width = 0.75 " 2 (1.5) = 2.25 m2
The maximum force on this defined length or tributary area is:
T = H " At = 26.5 " 2.25 = 59.6 kN
if pullout FS $ 1.5 then the resistance PR is:
PR $ H " At " FS = 89.4 kN

The number of reinforcing strips, N, required to satisfy the minimum resistance can
be calculated from:
N 

PR


2b @ F  Le @ v

where b = 50 mm
Le = 3.16 m (see figure 28)
v = " z (Neglect live load surcharge for pullout)
F* = 1.35 (Obtained by interpolation from 2.0 at Z = 0 to tan at 6 m)
N 

89.4
 3.8
2 (0.05) 1.35 (3.16) 18.8 (2.92)

N =

4 strips per tributary area for FS > 1.5 placed in a row over 2 panels.
-134-

Check stress in reinforcement based on the thickness loss of Es subtracted from the
nominal thickness of 4 mm. The basis for the thickness losses per year are as
follows:
zinc loss =
=
steel loss =

15 Fm (first 2 years)
4 Fm (thereafter)
12 Fm

Service life of zinc coating (86 Fm) is:


Life = 2 yrs. +

86 - 2 (15)
4

= 2 years + 14 years = 16 years

The base carbon steel will lose section for:


75 years - 16 years = 59 years at a rate of 12 Fm/year/side. Therefore, the
anticipated loss is:
ER = 12(59)2
Ec = 4.000 - 1.416=
and the section area

=
1.416 mm and
2.584 mm
=
129.2 mm2

If 60 grade steel is used Fy

and fall

227.5 MPA

= 0.55 (Fy)

413.7 MPA

The tensile stress in each strip can be calculated from:


fs 

T
59.6

N @ Ec
4 (0.000129) 1000

= 115.4 MPA < 227.5 MPA


Calculate internal stability at each layer and determine the number of reinforcing strips per tributary
area.
The results for each depth of reinforcement are shown in the following table:

-135-

Depth
z(m)

Vertical
Pressure
kPa

F*

Hor.
Pressure
kPa

N
strips per
trib. area

Tensile
stress/
MPA

FS
pullout

0.675

22.09

0.46

1.85

10.27

35.75

1.61

1.425

36.19

0.45

1.69

16.18

70.44

1.57

2.175

50.29

0.43

1.52

21.59

94.01

1.62

2.925

64.39

0.41

1.35

26.51

115.42

1.58

3.675

78.49

0.39

1.19

30.93

134.65

1.49

4.425

92.59

0.38

1.02

34.85

151.72

1.51

5.175

106.69

0.36

0.86

38.27

166.61

1.52

5.925

120.79

0.34

0.69

41.19

143.47

1.82

6.675

134.89

0.34

0.67

45.76

199.24

1.59

7.425

148.99

0.34

0.67

50.55

220.06

1.75

b.

Computer-Aided Solution

The computer program MSEW(32) could also be used as a design aid. MSEW is a windows based
interactive program specifically developed under sponsorship of the FHWA for the design and
analysis of mechanically stabilized earth walls. It follows AASHTO 96 with 1998 Interims and this
manual. Portions of this manual are incorporated in the Help menu. Version 1.0 has been
designated exclusively for use by U.S. State Highway Agencies and by U.S. Federal agencies.
Version 1.1 is available to the public through ADAMA Engineering (www.MSEW.com).
MSEW has two modes of operation: Design and Analysis. In the Design mode, the program
computes the required layout (length and vertical spacing) corresponding to users prescribed safety
factors. In this mode, the program produces the ideal reinforcement values for strength or coverage
ratio so that the designer can maximize reinforcement utilization. In the Analysis mode, MSEW
computes the factors of safety corresponding to users prescribed layout.
MSEW Design Check for Example 4.6
This section provides the steps and input necessary with MSEW in the Analysis mode to evaluate
the external and internal design shown in steps 7 and 8 of the preceding example. The example
problem will use the simple problem format on the initial screen. The steps are as follows:
<

Load the MSEW Program.

<

After the welcome screen, open the file menu, click on


.
information. Then click

-136-

and input the project

<

The screens for input of design information and requirements


should now be on the screen. These include the PROGRAM
MANAGER, the GEOMETRY/ SURCHARGE, SOILS
AND SEISMICITY, and REINFORCEMENT.

<

Move to the PROGRAM MANAGER screen and choose


the
mode to evaluate given design results from
example problem 4.6. Also choose the units to be used (e.g.,
metric units for this problem. The project information which
was entered in the first step can be reviewed using the
button.

<

Next move to the GEOMETRY/SURCHARGE SCREEN.


Click on
geometry and enter the design height and
external loads on the structure from the example problem as
follows.

-137-

<

Next, on the GEOMETRY/SURCHARGE


screen, click on the
button and select the
for this
problem.
Press
and
check/modify the default information
provided as follows. Click on
to
advance each screen until the final screen,
.
then click on

< Check the depth, unit weight and horizontal


distance to the center of gravity.

< Two screens are included for reducing


the stress at the facing connections. As
indicated in Section 4.3e, AASHTO
does not allow a reduction in strength at
the connection and all values should be

set to 1.

-138-

<

Next, move to the SOILS &SEISMICITY screen and


input the engineering properties of the reinforced soil,
retained soil and foundation soil plus the seismic
requirements. Note the default values must be changed
for this problem. For the foundation soil, the computer
program will either calculate the bearing capacity
based on the soil properties or an ultimate bearing
capacity can be input (e.g., where complex subsurface
conditions exist). In the example problem - step 2, a
300 kPa allowable bearing capacity was given. Using
a factor of safety of 2.5, a 750 kPa ultimate bearing
capacity will be used in the computer analysis. Click
on
is given
and input the value (not shown).

-139-

< Next on the main menu screen, move to the


REINFORCEMENT screen to input the reinforcement
requirement from the design example. The example problem
button.
uses metal strips, so click on the
< On the next screen, click on the
Button and enter the
reinforcement strength, length and number of strips from the
table in Step 8 of the example problem. Each screen will
appear after clicking on
for the preceding screen.
< Check the Cross sectional area corrected for corrosion loss and
change it to 129 mm2 based on the results from the
.

-140-

<

On the Specified heights, lengths, and strengths of reinforcement - Analysis screen input the
height above the top of the pad (h) and the horizontal spacing (Sh). Note that the height is
referenced above the pad to the level of the specific reinforcement layer, where as in the table
of results in step 8 of the design example, the depth is provided to the level of reinforcement (i.e.,
h = 7.8m - z). The horizontal spacing is modified to the layout required to accommodate the
number of strips included in the design example (i.e., Sh = 3m / N for the top row).

<

Back to the Metal Strips screen, click on the


button to evaluate the interaction parameters.

-141-

<

Check the Interface Fiction information for ribbed metal strips with step 8 in the example
problem as shown on the following screens. The default values are acceptable for this problem
and no changes are required.

-142-

<

Return to the Metal Strips screen and review the


and
lateral earth pressure
coefficient information. Again the default values are
acceptable.

< The results of the analysis of the design information can now be viewed by returning to the
button. The following shows
PROGRAM MANAGER screen and pressing the
the screen for the static results of the analysis and an expanded Results of analysis table. The
factor of safety for external analysis is shown on the screen and the complete analyses (not
shown) can also be viewed from this screen by clicking on the appropriate
,
or
button. Additional detail for the
,
and
internal stability calculations can also be viewed.
-143-

< The results show that the external factors of safety and the eccentricity agree with those obtained
in step 7 of the design example. The internal stability results in terms of the factor of safety for
reinforcement strength and pullout resistance also agree well with the results in step 8. A Global
Stability Analysis using the methods discussed in Chapter 7 could also be performed using the
MSEW program.
4.7

DESIGN EXAMPLE Geosynthetic Reinforcement

-144-

The following example is from a Highway Innovative Technology Evaluation Center (HITEC)
report(31) on a modular block unit faced, geogrid soil reinforcement wall system. The hand
calculation is directly from the report. The computerized analysis was performed using input
parameters from the hand calculation.
l. Hand Calculation Example(31)
HORIZONTAL BACKSLOPE WITH TRAFFIC SURCHARGE - STATIC ANALYSIS
GEOGRID WITH 100% COVERAGE

H
V1
F1
F2

=
=
=
=

9m
rHL
b H2 Ka.
qHKa

L
e
q
R

=
=
=
=

7.5 m
Eccentricity
Traffic Surcharge = 11.97 kN/m
Resultant of Vertical Forces
(V1 +qL)

SOIL PROPERTIES
REINFORCED SOILS
r = 19.6 kN/m3

r = 34E

Ka = tan2 (45 - /2)


= tan2 (45-34/2) = 0.28 = Ka

c = 0 kPa
(Section 4.3B FHWA - Demo 82)

-145-

HORIZONTAL BACKSLOPE WITH TRAFFIC SURCHARGE - STATIC ANALYSIS


GEOGRID WITH 100% COVERAGE
RETAINED BACKFILL SOILS
b = 19.6 kN/m3

b = 30E

c = 0 kPa

f = 30E

c = 0 kPa

FOUNDATION SOILS
f = 19.6 kN/m3

Ka = tan2 (45 - /2)


= tan2 (45-30/2) = Ka = 0.33
(Section 4.2d FHWA - Demo 82)
q = tr h = (19.6 kN/m3) (0.610 m) = 11.97 kN/m2
EXTERNAL STABILITY
H = 9m
B = L = 7.5 m (assumed L > 0.7 H or 2.44 m)
LOADS
V1 =
V2 =
R =
F1 =
F2 =

r HL = (19.6)(9)(7.5) = 1323.0 kN/m


qL = (11.97)(7.5) = 89.8 kN/m
V = V1 + V2 = 1323.0 + 89.8 = 1412.8 kN/m
b H2 Ka = (0.5)(19.6)(92)(0 .33) = 262.0 kN/m
q H Ka = (11.97)(9)(0.33) = 35.6 kN/m

MOMENTS
M = Overturning Moment = F1 (H/3) + F2 (H/2)
= (262)(9/3) + (35.6)(9/2) = 946.2 kN m/m = Mo
MRO = Resisting Moment = V1 (L/2) = (1323)(7.5/2)
= 4961.3 kN m/m
MRBP = Resisting Moment in Applied Bearing Pressure Calculation
= V1 (L/2) + V2 (L/2) = 1323(7.5/2) + 89.8(7.5/2)
= 5298 kN m/m
FSsliding = PR (Section 4.2e of FHWA - Demo 82) =
pd
where is the lesser of r and f
= 1323 Tan 30 = 2.6 > 1.5
(262+35.6)
FSovertuming- = MRO = 4961.3
MO
946.2

= 5.2 > 2.0

-146-

V1 Tan ,
(Fl + F2)

HORIZONTAL BACKSLOPE WITH TRAFFIC SURCHARGE - STATIC ANALYSIS


GEOGRID WITH 100% COVERAGE
MAXIMUM APPLIED BEARING PRESSURE
L/6 = 7.5/6 = 1.25 m
e = L - (MRBP - MO)
2
V1 + V2
= 7.5 - (5298 - 946.2) = 0.67 m < 1.25 m
2
1323 + 89.8
L' = L - 2e = 7.5 - 2(0.67) = 6.16 = L'
v = Max. Applied Bearing Pressure = V1 + qL = V1 + V2
L - 2e
L
= 1323 + 89.8 = 229.4 kN/m2
6.16

(AASHTO 97 - Fig. 5.8.3A)

qult = Ult. Bearing Capacity of Fndn. Soil = cf Nc + 0.5 (L -2e) f N


(Section 4.2f of FHWA - Demo 82)
cf = Cohesion
= 0 kN/m2

Nc = Dimensionless Bearing Capacity Coefficient

qult = 0.5 L' f N = (0.5) (6.16) (19.6)(22.4) = 1352.2 kN/m2


FS bearing capacity = qult / v = 1352.2 = 5.89 > 2.5
229.4
FSsliding AT BASE OF FIRST GRID (Bottom of the wall)
F1 @ FIRST GRID = b d172 Ka. = () (19.6) (8.80)2 (0.33) = 250.4 kN/m
F2 @ FIRST GRID = q d17 Ka. = (11.97) (8.80) (0.33) = 34.8 kN/m
FSsliding =
FSsliding =
(at first grid)

r d17 L tanr Ci = (19.6) (8.80) (7.5) (tan 34E) (0.8)


(Fl + F2)
(250.4 + 34.8)
2.45 > 1.5

-147-

HORIZONTAL BACKSLOPE WITH TRAFFIC SURCHARGE - STATIC ANALYSIS


GEOGRID WITH 100% COVERAGE
INTERNAL STABILITY
H = 9m

B = L = 7.9 m (from external seismic stability analysis)

Vi = Geogrid (i) Tributary Area


d1 = 9 m - 8.53 m = 0.47 m d9 = 9 m - 3.66 m = 5.34 m
=o
d2 = 9 m - 7.93 m = 1.07 m d10 = 9 m - 3.05 m = 5.95 m
d3 = 9 m - 7.32 m = 1.68 m d11 = 9 m - 2.64 m = 6.36 m
d4 = 9 m - 6.71 m = 2.29 m d12 = 9 m - 2.24 m = 6.76 m
d5 = 9 m - 6.10 m = 2.90 m d13 = 9 m - 1.83 m = 7.17 m
d6 = 9 m - 5.49 m = 3.51 m d14 = 9 m - 1.42 m = 7.58 m
d7 = 9 m - 4.88 m = 4.12 m d15 = 9 m - 1.02 m = 7.98 m
d8 = 9 m - 4.27 m = 4.73 m d16 = 9 m - 0.61 m = 8.39 m
d17 = 9 m - 0.20 m = 8.80 m
V1
V2
V3
V4
V5
V6
V7
V8

=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=

d1 + (d2 - d1) = 0.47 + (1.07 - 0.47)


(d2 - d1) + (d3 - d2) = (1.07 - 0.47) + (1.68 - 1.07)
(d3 - d2) + (d4 - d3) = (1.68 - 1.07) + (2.29 - 1.68)
(d4 - d3) + (d5 - d4) = (2.29 - 1.68) + (2.90 - 2.29)
(d5 - d4) + (d6 - d5) = (2.90 - 2.29) + (3.51 - 2.90)
(d6 - d5) + (d7 - d6) = (3.51 - 2.90) + (4.12 - 3.51)
(d7 - d6) + (d8 - d7) = (4.12 - 3.51) + (4.73 - 4.12)
(d8 - d7) + (d9 - d8) = (4.73 - 4.12) + (5.34 - 4.73)

-148-

V2
V3
V4
V5
V6
V7
V8

=
=
=
=
=
=
=

V1 = 0.77 m
0.61 m
0.61 m
0.61 m
0.61 m
0.61 m
0.61 m
0.61 m

HORIZONTAL BACKSLOPE WITH TRAFFIC SURCHARGE - STATIC ANALYSIS


GEOGRID WITH 100% COVERAGE
V9 = (d9 - d8) + (d10 - d9) = (5.34 - 4.73) + (5.95 - 5.34)
V10 = (d10 - d9) + (d11 - d10) = (5.95 - 5.34) + (6.36 - 5.95)
V11 = (d11 - d10) + (d12 - d11) = (6.36 - 5.95) + (6.76 - 6.36)
V12
V13
V14
V15
V16
V17

=
=
=
=
=
=

(d12 - d11) + (d13 - d12)


(d13 - d12) + (d14 - d13)
(d14 - d13) + (d15 - d14)
(d15 - d14) + (d16 - d15)
(d16 - d15) + (d17 - d16)
(d17 - d16) + (H - d17) =

= (6.76 - 6.36) + (7.17 - 6.76)


= (7.17 - 6.76) + (7.58 - 7.17)
= (7.58 - 7.17) + (7.98 - 7.58)
= (7.98 - 7.58) + (8.39 - 7.98)
= (8.39 - 7.98) + (8.80 - 8.39)
(8.80 - 8.39) + (9.0 - 8.80)

V9 = 0.61 m
V10 = 0.51 m
V11
V12
V13
V14
V15
V16
V17

=
=
=
=
=
=
=

0.41 m
0.41 m
0.41 m
0.41 m
0.41 m
0.41 m
0.41 m

TENSION CALCULATION AT EACH REINFORCEMENT LEVEL T(MAX)


TMAX = H SV = H Vi
H = KAR (R di + q)

(Section 4.3B - FHWA - Demo 82)


(Section 4.3B - FHWA - Demo 82)

Note: The geogrid strengths shown below were obtained using the following equation:
Allowable Strength = (Ultimate Strength x Rc) / (FSuncertainties x FSID x FSD x Creep Reduction
Factor) where: FSuncertainties = 1.5, FSID varies from 1.1 to 1.2 depending on geogrid type, and FSD
= 1.1. The Creep Reduction Factor = 3.10. Rc is the percent coverage ratio. (100% coverage was
assumed for this example).
LAYER 1

TMAX1 = (0.28)[(19.6)(0.47) + 11.97] (0.77) = 4.57 kN/m = TMAX1


Try UX1 @ 100% coverage: Tall = 5.2 kN/m

LAYER 2

TMAX2 = (0.28)[(19.6)(1.07) + 11.97] (0.6 1) = 5.63 kN/m = TMAX2


Try UX2 @ 100% coverage: Tall = 6.9 kN/m

LAYER 3

TMAX3 = (0.28)[(19.6)(1.68)+11.97](0.61) = 7.67kN/m = TMAX3


Try UX3 @ 100% coverage: Tall = 11.2 kN/m

LAYER 4

TMAX4 = (0.28)[(19.6)(2.29)+11.97](0.61) = 9.7lkN/m = TMAX4


Try UX3 @ 100% coverage: Tall = 11.2 kN/m

LAYER 5

TMAX5 = (0.28)[(19.6)(2.90)+11.97](0.61) = 11.75kN/m = TMAX5


Try UX4 @ 100% coverage: Tall = 17.1 kN/m

LAYER 6

TMAX6 = (0.28)[(19.6)(3.51) + 11.971 (0.6 1) = 13.79 kN/m = TMAX6


Try UX4 @ 100% coverage: Tall = 17.1 kN/m

LAYER 7

TMAX7 = (0.28)[(19.6)(4.12)+11.97](0.61) = 15.84 kN/m = TMAX7


Try UX4 @ 100% coverage: Tall = 17.1 kN/m

LAYER 8

TMAX8 = (0.28)[(19.6)(4.73)+11.97)(0.61) = 17.88 kN/m = TMAX8


Try UX5 @ 100% coverage: Tall = 21.4 kN/m

-149-

HORIZONTAL BACKSLOPE WITH TRAFFIC SURCHARGE - STATIC ANALYSIS


GEOGRID WITH 100% COVERAGE
LAYER 9

TMAX9 = (0.28)[(19.6)(5.34)+11.97](0.61) = 19.92 kN/m = TMAX9


Try UX5 @ 100% coverage: Tall = 21.4 kN/m

LAYER 10

TMAX10 = (0.28)[(19.6)(5.95)+11.97](0.51) = 18.36 kN/m = TMAX10


Try UX5 @ 100% coverage: Tall = 21.4 kN/m

LAYER 11

TMAX11 = (0.28)[(19-6)(6.36)+11.97)(0.41) = 15.68 kN/m = TMAX11


Try UX5 @ 100% coverage: Tall = 21.4 kN/m

LAYER 12

TMAX12 = (0.28)[(19.6)(6.76)+11.97](0.41) = 16.58 kN/m = TMAX11


Try UX5 @ 100% coverage: Tall TD, = 21.4 kN/m

LAYER 13

TMAX13 = (0.28)[(19.6)(7.17) + 11.971 (0.41) = 17.51 kN/m = TMAX13


Try UX5 @ 100% coverage: Tall = 21.4 kN/m

LAYER 14

TMAX14 = (0.28)[(19.6)(7.58)+11.97)(0.41) = 18.43 kN/m = TMAX14


Try UX6 @ 100% coverage: Tall = 27.9 kN/m

LAYER 15

TMAX15 = (0.28)[(19.6)(7.98)+11.97](0.41) = 19.33 kN/m = TMAX15


Try UX6 @ 100% coverage: Tall = 27.9 kN/m

LAYER 16

TMAX16 = (0.28)[(19.6)(8.39) + 11.97](0.41) = 20.25 kN/m = TMAX16


Try UX6 @ 100% coverage: Tall = 27.9 kN/m

LAYER 17

TMAX17 = (0.28)[(19.6)(8.80)+11.97](0.41) = 21.17 kN/m = TMAX17


Try UX6 @ 100% coverage: Tall = 27.9 kN/m

PULLOUT CALCULATIONS AT EACH LAYER


Tmax < (1 / FSPO)(F* )()(z)(Le)(C)(Rc)()
Where FSPO = 1.5

F* = tan Ci

Rc = % coverage of reinforcement (may vary from 100% to 71%). Rc assumed to be 100%


for this example.
Ci = interaction coefficient determined from pullout testing for a particular reinforcement
type.
C = 2 for geogrids

Ci = 0.8

= unit weight of soil


z = depth below top of wall
Le = length of reinforcement in resistance zone
= scale effect correction factor ( = 1.0 determined in laboratory tests performed on the
geogrids used in this example)

-150-

HORIZONTAL BACKSLOPE WITH TRAFFIC SURCHARGE - STATIC ANALYSIS


GEOGRID WITH 100% COVERAGE

Layer 1
Le

15
. TMAX
C tan Ci zRc

(15
. )(4.57)
(2)(tan 34 )(0.8)(19.6)(0.47)(10
. )(10
. )

Le > 0.688 > 1 m

use Le = 1 m

Layer 2
Le

Le > 0.17 > 1 m

(15
. )(5.63)
(2)(tan 34 )(0.8)(19.6)(107
. )(10
. )(1.0)

use Le = 1 m

Layer 3
Le

Le > 0.32 > 1 m

(15
. )(7.67)
(2)(tan 34 )(0.8)(19.6)(168
. )(1.0)(1.0)

use Le = 1 m

Layer 4
Le

Le > 0.30 > 1 m

(15
. )(9.71)
(2)(tan 34 )(0.8)(19.6)(2.29)(10
. )(1.0)

use Le = 1 m

Layer 5
Le

Le > 0.29 > 1 m

(15
. )(1175
. )
(2)(tan 34 )(0.8)(19.6)(2.9)(10
. )(1.0)

use Le = 1 m

Layer 6
Le

Le > 0.28 > 1 m

(15
. )(13.79)
(2)(tan 34 )(0.8)(19.6)(351
. )(10
. )(1.0)

use Le = 1 m

-151-

HORIZONTAL BACKSLOPE WITH TRAFFIC SURCHARGE - STATIC ANALYSIS


GEOGRID WITH 100% COVERAGE
Layer 7
Le

Le > 0.27 > 1 m

(15
. )(1584
. )
(2)(tan 34 )(0.8)(19.6)(4.12)(1.0)(10
. )

use Le = 1 m

Layer 8
Le

Le > 0.27 > 1 m

(15
. )(17.88)
(2)(tan 34 )(0.8)(19.6)(4.73)(10
. )(10
. )

use Le = 1 m

Layer 9
Le

Le > 0.26 > 1 m

(15
. )(19.92)
(2)(tan 34 )(0.8)(19.6)(5.34)(1.0)(10
. )

use Le = 1 m

Layer 10
Le

Le > 0.22 > 1 m

(15
. )(18.36)
(2)(tan 34 )(0.8)(19.6)(5.95)(10
. )(1.0)

use Le = 1 m

Layer 11
Le

Le > 0.17 > 1 m

(15
. )(15.68)
(2)(tan 34 )(0.8)(19.6)(6.36)(1.0)(10
. )

use Le = 1 m

Layer 12
Le

Le > 0.17 > 1 m

(15
. )(16.58)
(2)(tan 34 )(0.8)(19.6)(6.76)(1.0)(10
. )

use Le = 1 m

Layer 13
Le

Le > 0.17 > 1 m

(15
. )(17.51)
(2)(tan 34 )(0.8)(19.6)(7.17)(10
. )(10
. )

use Le = 1 m

-152-

HORIZONTAL BACKSLOPE WITH TRAFFIC SURCHARGE - STATIC ANALYSIS


GEOGRID WITH 100% COVERAGE
Layer 14
Le

Le > 0.17 > 1 m

(15
. )(18.43)
(2)(tan 34 )(0.8)(19.6)(7.58)(10
. )(10
. )

use Le = 1 m

Layer 15
Le

Le > 0.17 > 1 m

(15
. )(19.33)
(2)(tan 34 )(0.8)(19.6)(7.98)(1.0)(1.0)

use Le = 1 m

Layer 16
Le

Le > 0.17 > 1 m

(15
. )(20.25)
(2)(tan 34 )(0.8)(19.6)(8.39)(1.0)(10
. )

use Le = 1 m

Layer 14
Le

Le > 0.17 > 1 m

(15
. )(2117
. )
(2)(tan 34 )(0.8)(19.6)(8.80)(10
. )(10
. )

use Le = 1 m

CALCULATE LA / LAYER
LA = (H - di) tan (45 - /2) for geogrids
LA1 = (9 - 0.47)(0.532) = 4.54 m
LA2 = (9 - 1.07)(0.532) = 4.22 m
LA3 = (9 - 1.68)(0.532) = 3.89 m
LA4 = (9 - 2.29)(0.532) = 3.57 m
LA5 = (9 - 2.90)(0.532) = 3.24 m
LA6 = (9 - 3.51)(0.532) = 2.92 m
LA7 = (9 - 4.12)(0.532) = 2.59 m
LA8 = (9 - 4.73)(0.532) = 2.27 m
LA9 = (9 - 5.34)(0.532) = 1.95 m
LA10 = (9 - 5.95)(0.532) = 1.62 m

(tan (45 - /2)) = 0.532

-153-

HORIZONTAL BACKSLOPE WITH TRAFFIC SURCHARGE - STATIC ANALYSIS


GEOGRID WITH 100% COVERAGE
LA11 = (9 - 6.36) (0.532)
LA12 = (9 - 6.76) (0.532)
LA13 = (9 - 7.17) (0.532)
LA14 = (9 - 7.58) (0.532)
LA15 = (9 - 7.98) (0.532)
LA6 = (9 - 8.39) (0.532)
LA17 = (9 - 8.80) (0.532)

= 1.40 m
= 1.19 m
=
=
=
=
=

0.973 m
0.755 m
0.542 m
0.324 m
0.106 m

CALCULATE LT AND COMPARE TO DESIGN LENGTH


(Geogrid lengths of 7.9 m control from external seismic stability analysis)
Layer 1
LT1 = 4.54 + 1 = 5.54 < 7.9
use 7.9 m
Layer 2
Layer 3
Layer 4
Layer 5
Layer 6
Layer 7
Layer 8
Layer 9
Layer 10
Layer 11
Layer 12
Layer 13
Layer 14
Layer 15
Layer 16
Layer 17

LT1
LT1
LT1
LT1
LT1
LT1
LT1
LT1
LT1
LT1
LT1
LT1
LT1
LT1
LT1
LT1

=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=

4.22 + 1 = 5.22 < 7.9


3.89 + 1 = 4.89 < 7.9
3.57 + 1 = 4.57 < 7.9
3.24 + 1 = 4.24 < 7.9
2.92 + 1 = 3.92 < 7.9
2.59 + 1 = 3.59 < 7.9
2.27 + 1 = 3.27 < 7.9
1.95 + 1 = 2.95 < 7.9
1.62 + 1 = 2.62 < 7.9
1.40 + 1 = 2.40 < 7.9
1.19 + 1 = 2.19 < 7.9
0.973 + 1 = 1.97 < 7.9
0.755 + 1 = 1.76 < 7.9
0.542 + 1 = 1.542 < 7.9
0.324 + 1 = 1.32 < 7.9
0. 106 + 1 = 1. 11 < 7.9

-154-

use 7.9 m
use 7.9 m
use 7.9 m
use 7.9 m
use 7.9 m
use 7.9 m
use 7.9 m
use 7.9 m
use 7.9 m
use 7.9 m
use 7.9 m
use 7.9 m
use 7.9 m
use 7.9 m
use 7.9 m
use 7.9 m

m. Computer-Aided Solution
MSEW Design Check for Example 4.7
The computer program MSEW could be used to check the design results in example 4.7. This
section provides the steps and input necessary to evaluate the external and internal design shown in
the preceding hand calculation example. The example problem will use the simple problem format
on the initial screen. The steps are as follows:
<

Load the MSEW Program.

<

After the welcome screen, open the file menu, click on


and input the project information. Then click

<

The screens for input of design information and requirements


should now be on the screen. These include the
PROGRAM
SURCHARGE,

MANAGER,
SOILS

AND

the

GEOMETRY/

SEISMICITY, and

REINFORCEMENT.
< Move to the PROGRAM MANAGER screen and choose the
mode to evaluate given design results from
example problem 4.7. Also choose the units to be used (e.g.,
metric units for this problem. The project information which
was entered in the first step can be reviewed using the
button.
<

Next move to the GEOMETRY/SURCHARGE SCREEN.


Click on
geometry and enter the design height and
external loads on the structure from the example problem as follows.

-155-

<

N e x t ,
o n
t h e
GEOMETRY/SURCHARGE
screen, click on the
button and select the
for this problem. Press
and input required properties of
the modular concrete block facing
unit. Press
the

and check
.

and

select

how
.

and

Press
to

input

Press

input

geogrid used. Click on

for
to advance.

-156-

-157-

<

Next, move to the SOILS &SEISMICITY screen


and input the engineering properties of the reinforced
soil, retained soil and foundation soil plus the seismic
requirements. Note the default values must be
changed for this problem. For the foundation soil,
the computer program will either calculate the
bearing capacity based on the soil properties or an
ultimate bearing capacity can be input (e.g., where
complex subsurface conditions exist). In the
example problem - the soil properties are provided
and therefore used as input.

-158-

-159-

< Next

on

the

main

menu

screen,

move

to

the

REINFORCEMENT screen to input the reinforcement


requirement from the design example. The example problem
button.
uses geogrids, so click on the
< On the next screen, enter the number of different reinforcement
types that will be used (note that the hand calculation used 6
different types, but MSEW limits number to 5 maximum) click
the

Button.

< Enter the strength information on the next screen. Either the allowable strength or ultimate
strength and reduction values may be entered. The allowable strength option is used with this
example. Coverage ratio is also entered on this screen. Enter data and click
next screen,

-160-

to move to the

< On the

screen, enter the

reinforcement height, length and type. Click

after entering data.

< Back to the Geogrid screen, click on the


button
to input the soil-geogrid interaction parameters.

-161-

< Check the Interface Fiction information for the geogrid reinforcement in the example problem
as shown on the following screen.

< Return to the GEOGRID Analysis screen and


and
lateral
review the
earth pressure coefficient information. Again the
default values are acceptable.

-162-

< The results of the analysis of the design information can now
be viewed by returning to the PROGRAM MANAGER
screen and pressing the
button to run MSEW
and display results. The following shows the screen for the
static results of the analysis and an expanded Results of
analysis table. The factor of safety for external analysis is
shown on the screen and the complete analyses (not shown)
can also be viewed from this screen by clicking on the
,
or
appropriate
button. Additional detail for the
,
and
internal stability calculations can also be viewed.
< The results show that the external factors of safety and the eccentricity agree with those obtained
in the design example. The internal stability results in terms of the factor of safety for
reinforcement strength and pullout resistance also agree well with the results in step 8. A Global
Stability Analysis using the methods discussed in Chapter 7 could also be performed using the
MSEW program.

-163-

-164-

4.8

STANDARD MSEW DESIGNS

MSEW structures are customarily designed on a project-specific basis. Most agencies use a lineand-grade contracting approach, with the contractor selected MSEW vendor providing the detailed
design after contract bid and award. This approach works well for segmental and full-height panel
faced walls, and can be used for MBW unit faced walls. However, standard designs can be
developed and implemented by an agency for MSEW structures, somewhat similar to standard
concrete cantilever wall designs used by many agencies.
Use of standard designs for MSEW structures could offer the following advantages over a line-andgrade approach:
!
Agency is more responsible for design details and integrating wall design with other
components.
!
Pre evaluation and approval of materials and material combinations, as opposed to evaluating
contractor submittal post bid.
!
Economy of agency design versus vendor design/stamping of small walls.
!
Agency makes design decisions versus vendors making design decisions.
!
More equitable bid environment as agency is responsible for design details, and vendors are
not making varying assumptions.
!
Filters out substandard work, systems and designs with associated approved product lists.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MN/DOT), with support of the FHWA (via Demo
82 project) recently developed and implemented standardized MSEW designs (34) for MBW unit
faced and geosynthetic reinforced MSEW structures. The use of these standard designs are limited
by geometric, subsurface and economic constraints. Structures outside of these constraints should
be designed on a project-specific basis. The general approach used in developing these standards
could be followed by other agencies to develop their own, agency-specific standard designs.
Standardized designs require generic designs and generic materials. Generic designs require
definition of wall geometry and surcharge loads, soil reinforcement strength, structure height limit,
and MBW unit properties of width and batter. As an example, the MN/DOT standard designs
address four geometric and surcharge loadings, and can be used for walls up to 7 m (23 feet) in
height.
Definition of generic material properties for the standard designs requires the development of
approved product lists for MBW units, soil reinforcement and MBW unit-soil reinforcement
combinations. The combinations require a separate approved product list as the connection strength
is specific to each unique combination of MBW unit and reinforcement, and often controls the
-165-

reinforcement design strength. An additional requirement for MBW units is an approved


manufacturing quality control plan on file with the agency. This requirement is a result of the
stringent durability (to freeze thaw and deicing salt conditions) specifications for the units and the
long duration testing used to demonstrate durability.
An example design cross section and reinforcement layout table from the MN/DOT standard designs
is presented in Figure 44. Note that the MN/DOT standard designs are not directly applicable to, nor
should they be used by, other agencies.

-166-

MODULAR BLOCK WALL REINFORCEMENT LAYOUT


CASE 4 - 1:3 FILL SLOPE
MBW
Reinforcement
Class

MBW-10

Strength of Soil
Reinf. (kN/m)

L. Term
(Tal)

Design
(Ta)

15

10

Minimum
Reinforcement
Length, L
(m)

0.7 H

Maximum
Wall
Height
(m)

Nominal
Block
Width
(mm)

6.8
305
7.0

MBW-15

22.5

15

0.7 H

7.0

305

MBW-20

30

20

0.7 H

7.0

305

Wall Batter
Range
(degrees)
>

<

0
3
7
10
0
3
7
10
0
3
7
10

3
7
10
15
3
7
10
15
3
7
10
15

Figure 44. Example of standard MSEW design.(after 34)

-167-

Maximum
Unreinforced
Wall Height
(mm)

610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610

Zone 1

Zone 2

Zone 3

H1
(m)

S1max
(mm)

H2
(m)

S1max
(mm)

H3
(m)

S1max
(mm)

2.6
2.8
3.4
3.6
4.4
4.8
5.4
5.9
5.4
5.8
7.0
7.0

610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610
610

1.6
2.0
2.1
2.4
1.8
1.7
1.6
1.1
0.8
1.2

410
410
410
410
460
460
410
410
460
460

2.6
2.0
1.5
1.0
0.8
0.5

205
205
205
205
305
305

[ BLANK ]

-168-

CHAPTER 5
DESIGN OF MSE WALLS WITH COMPLEX GEOMETRICS
The basic design methods outlined in chapter 4 considers MSE structures with simple geometries
with reinforcement layers of the same length supporting either a horizontal backfill or a surcharge
slope. Although most MSE structures fall into this category, structures with more complex
geometries or significant external loads are practical and require consideration during the selection
process. They include:
! Bridge abutments.
! Superimposed walls.
! Walls with uneven length reinforcement.
! Back-to-back walls.
They are illustrated in figure 45.
The shape and location of the maximum tensile force line are generally altered by both the geometry
and the loads applied on the complex MSE wall structure. It is possible to assume an approximate
maximum tensile force line for each; however, supporting experience and analysis are more limited
than for rectangular reinforced soil walls.
Moreover, for complex or compound structures, it is always difficult to separate internal stability
from external stability because the most critical slip-failure surface may pass through both reinforced
and unreinforced sections of the structure. For this reason, a global stability analysis is generally
required for this type of structure. A rough estimate of the global factor of safety could be made
using plane failure surfaces; however, the best method is to use a reinforced soil global stability
computer method. The procedures detailed in chapter 7 for evaluating RSS embankments could be
used to evaluate the global stability of Mechanically Stabilized Earth walls.
The following sections give guidelines for each case.

-169-

Figure 45. Types of complex MSE structures.

-170-

5.1

BRIDGE ABUTMENTS

Bridge abutments have been designed by supporting the bridge beams on a spread foundation
constructed directly on the reinforced soil volume, or by supporting a smaller spread footing on deep
foundations constructed thru the reinforced volume.
Abutments directly supported on the reinforced volume may be more economical, and should be
considered when the projected settlement of the foundation and reinforced volume is rapid/small or
essentially complete, prior to the erection of the bridge beams. Based on field studies of actual
structures, 1996 AASHTO suggests, that tolerable angular distortions (i.e., limiting differential
settlements) between abutments or between piers and abutments be limited to the following angular
distortions:
!

0.005 for simple spans; and

0.004 for continuous spans.

This criteria, suggests that for a 30 m (100 ft) span for instance, differential settlements of 120 mm
(4.8 inches) for a continuous span or 150 mm (6 inches) for a simple span, would be acceptable, with
no ensuing overstress and damage to superstructure elements. On an individual project basis
differential settlements of smaller amounts may be required from a functional or performance
criteria.
a. MSEW Abutments on Spread Footings
Where fully supporting the bridge loads, MSEW bridge abutments are designed by considering
them as rectangular walls with surcharge loads at the top. The design procedures for taking
account of the surcharge loads for internal stability analysis have been outlined in chapter 4. The
same type of procedure is used for the internal stability of bridge abutment structures, calculating
the horizontal stress h at each level by the following formula (equation 39):
H = K (rZ + v) + h
where: v is the increment of vertical stress due to the concentrated vertical surcharge Pv,
assuming a 2V:1H pyramidal distribution (figure 31).
h is the increment of horizontal stress due to the horizontal loads Ph and calculated
as shown in figure 32a, and Z is the vertical stress at the base of the wall or layer in
question due to the overburden pressure.
For large surcharge slabs (with a support width greater than H/3) at the top of reinforced soil wall,
the shape of the maximum tensile force line has to be modified to extend to the back edge of the
footing, as indicated in figure 46.

-171-

Figure 46. Location of maximum tensile force line in case of large surcharge slabs (inextensible
reinforcements).

Note that MSEW bridge abutments have historically almost always used inextensible
reinforcements. However, similar shifts in the maximum tension line to the back of large
surcharge slabs have been observed for extensible reinforcement. Therefore, the maximum
tensile force line should also be modified for extensible reinforcement if the back edge of the
slab extends beyond H tan (45 - /2) from the wall face.
Successful experience with MSEW abutment construction has suggested that the following
additional details be implemented:
!

Require a minimum offset from the front of the facing to the center line of bridge bearings
of 1 m (3 ft).

Require a clear distance of 150 mm (6 inches) between the back face of the facing panels and
the front edge of footing.

Where significant frost penetration is anticipated, place the abutment footing on a bed of
compacted coarse aggregate, 1 m (3 ft) thick.

Limit the bearing capacity on the reinforced volume to 200 kPa (4,000 psf).

-172-

Use the maximum horizontal force at each reinforcement level, for the design of connections
to the panels.

Extend the density, length and cross-section of reinforcements of the abutment to wingwalls,
for a horizontal distance equal to 50 percent of the height of the abutment wall.

The seismic design forces should also include seismic forces transferred from the bridge
through bearing supports which do not slide freely (e.g., elastomeric bearings).

The balance of the computations remain the same as for any MSE wall as outlined in chapter 4.
b. MSEW Abutments on Pile Foundations
Where this type of support is chosen, due to construction control, uncertainty or to limit
superstructure deflection, the MSE wall is designed with no consideration to the vertical bridge
loads, which are transmitted to an appropriate bearing strata by deep foundations. Typically, deep
foundations have been vertical steel piles, which are driven prior to MSE wall erection.
Horizontal bridge and abutment backwall forces must be resisted, by methods dependent on the
type of abutment support, namely:
For conventional abutments, the horizontal forces may be resisted by extending sufficient soil
reinforcement (strips, grids) from the back edge of the abutment footing. The resistance is
provided by soil/reinforcement interaction over the full length. A typical detail is shown on
figure 47. Alternately the horizontal forces may be resisted by the pile lateral capacity or by other
means.
For integral abutments, the horizontal force and its distribution with depth may be developed
using pile load/deflection methods (p-y curves) and added as a supplementary horizontal force
to be resisted by the wall reinforcements. This force will vary depending on the level of
horizontal load, pile diameter, pile spacing and distance from the pile to the back of panels.
The following additional design details have been successfully used:
!

Provide a clear horizontal distance of 0.5 m (18 inches) between the back of the panels and
the front edge of the pile.

Use a bond breaker on the pile, when negative skin friction is anticipated.

Provide a casing around piles, thru the reinforced fill, where significant negative skin friction
is anticipated. The casing is filled with sand just prior to footing construction.

Where pile locations interfere with the reinforcement, specific methods for field installation must
be developed and presented on the plans. Simple cutting of the reinforcements during
construction is not permissible.
-173-

Figure 47. Pile supported MSE abutment.


-174-

5.2

SUPERIMPOSED WALLS

The design of superimposed MSE walls is made in two steps:


(1) A design using simplified design rules for calculating external stability and locating the internal
failure plane for internal stability as shown in figure 48.
(2) A stability analysis, including both compound and global stability using a reinforced soil global
stability computer program outlined in chapter 6. This is an essential computation.
For preliminary design, the following minimum values for reinforcement length, of L1 and L2,
should be used for offsets (D) greater than [ 1/20 (H1 + H2) ]:
Upper wall:

L1 $ 0.7 H1

Lower wall:

L2 $ 0.6 H

where

H = total height

Where the offset distance (D) is greater than H2 tan (90-r), walls are not considered superimposed
and are independently designed.
For a small upper wall offset; D # [ 1/20 (H1 + H2) ], it is assumed that the failure surface does not
fundamentally change and it is simply adjusted laterally by the offset distance D. The walls should
be designed as a single wall with a height H.
External stability calculations for the upper wall are conventionally performed as outlined in chapter
4. For the lower wall, consider the upper wall as a surcharge in computing bearing pressures. In lieu
of a conventional external sliding stability computation, perform a slope stability analysis with
failure circles exiting at the base. A minimum factor of safety of 1.5 is generally warranted.
For calculating the internal stability, the maximum tensile force lines are as indicated in figure 48a.
These relationships are somewhat empirical and geometrically derived.
For intermediate offset distances, see figure 48a for the location of the failure surface and consider
the vertical pressures in figure 48b for internal stress calculations.
For large setback distances, [ D $ H2 tan (90-r) ], the maximum tensile force lines are considered
independently, without regard to the geometry of the two superimposed walls. For internal stability
computations, the upper wall is neglected.
The balance of the computations remain identical as in chapter 4.

-175-

Figure 48. Design rules for superimposed walls.


-176-

5.3

WALLS WITH UNEVEN REINFORCEMENT LENGTHS

Use of this type of reinforcement geometry should be considered only if the base of the MSE
structure is in rock or competent foundation soil (foundation materials which will exhibit minimal
post construction settlements).
The design of these walls requires two analyses:
(1) A design using simplified design rules for determining external stability.
(2) A global stability analysis, performed using a reinforced soil stability program.
Simplified design rules for these structures are as follows:
! The wall is represented by a rectangular block (Lo, H) having the same total height and the same
cross-sectional area as the trapezoidal section for external stability calculations. See figure 49.
! The maximum tensile force line is the same as in rectangular walls (bilinear or linear according
to the extensibility of the reinforcements).
! Minimum base length (L3) $ 0.4 H, with the difference in length in each zones being less than
0.15 H.
! For internal stability calculations, the wall is divided in rectangular sections and for each section
the appropriate L (L1, L2, L3), is used for pullout calculations, using methods developed in chapter
4.

Figure 49. Dimensioning a MSE wall with uneven reinforcement lengths.

-177-

5.4

BACK-TO-BACK WALLS

For walls which are built back-to-back as shown in figure 50, a modified value of backfill thrust
influences the external stability calculations. As indicated in figure 50, two cases can be considered.
! For Case I, the overall base width is large enough so that each wall behaves and can be designed
independently. In particular, there is no overlapping of the reinforcements. Theoretically, if the
distance, D, between the two walls is shorter than:
D = H1 tan (45o - /2)

(55)

then the active wedges at the back of each wall cannot fully spread out and the active thrust is
reduced. However, it is assumed that for values of:
D > H1 tan (45o - /2) . 0.5 H1

(56)

full active thrust is mobilized.


! For Case II, there is an overlapping of the reinforcements such that the two walls interact. When
the overlap, LR, is greater than 0.3 H2, where H2 is the shorter of the parallel walls, no active
earth thrust from the backfill needs to be considered for external stability calculations. For
intermediate geometries between Case I and Case II, the active earth thrust may be linearly
interpolated from the full active case to zero. For Case II geometries with overlaps greater than
0.3 H2, L/H ratios for each wall as low as 0.6 may be considered.
Considering this case, designers might be tempted to use single reinforcements connected to both
wall facings. This alternative completely changes the strain patterns in the structure and results
in higher reinforcement tensions such that the design method in this manual is no longer
applicable. In addition, difficulties in maintaining wall alignment could be encountered during
construction, especially when the walls are not in a tangent section.
Based on a performance review, back-to-back walls with overlapping reinforcements may be
designed for static load conditions with a distance between parallel facing as low as L/H = 0.6,
where H is the height of each wall, and for conditions where the seismic horizontal accelerations
at the foundation level is less than 0.05g. For walls in more seismically active areas (up to 0.19g)
a distance of 1.1H1 is presently recommended. For walls subjected to significant seismic loading
(up to 0.40g) successful performance has been observed when the distance between parallel
facings was at least 1.2H1.
Justification of narrower back-to-back distances (< 1.1H1) between faces in seismically active
areas require a more detailed analysis be performed to include effects of potential non-uniform
distribution of seismic and inertial forces within the wall, as suggested by numerical studies and
not provided for in the present design methodology.

-178-

Figure 50. Back-to-back wall.

-179-

5.5

DETAILS

At abutment locations, the permeation of salt-laden runoff through the expansion joints could result
in a chloride rich environment near the face panel connection for a significant percentage of the wall
height. To minimize this problem, seepage should be controlled as shown on figure 51.

Figure 51. Abutment seat detail.

-180-

5.6

DESIGN EXAMPLE, BRIDGE ABUTMENT

v. Hand Calculation Example


A bridge abutment design as an alternate to a conventional abutment, will be illustrated using the
sequential design procedures outlined in chapter 4. The bridge is at the end of the retaining wall in
the example for chapter 4, and the same MSE system will be used.
Step 1:Establish design height, external loads (see figure 52)
-

Total height, H

= 9.7 m

Facing wall height, H

= 7.5 m

Traffic surcharge, q

= 9.4 kN/m2 (0.5 m equivalent height)

Distance from front face to centerline of bearing

= 1.0 m (minimum recommended)

Bridge vertical dead load

= 45 kN/m

Bridge vertical live load

= 50 kN/m

Bridge horizontal load

2.25 kN/m

Step 2:Establish engineering geotechnical properties.


-

Foundations:

= 30o, qa = 300 kPa (clayey sand, dense)

Retained Fill:

= 30o, = 18.8 kN/m3

Reinforced Fill:

= 34o, = 18.8 kN/m3, qa = 200 kPa, F* =

Step 3:Establish design factor of safety.


! Design life =

75 years (If critical application, increase to 100 years).

! External Stability FS
-

Sliding $ 1.5

Eccentricity # L/6

Maximum foundation pressure # allowable

! Internal Stability FS

-181-

2.0

Pullout $ 1.5

Allowable stress - 0.55 fy

Step 4:Choose facing type, reinforcement spacing and type.


-

The project is at the same location as in the example for chapter 4. Therefore, precast panels
1.5 x 1.5 m and galvanized steel ribbed strips will be used at a vertical spacing of 0.75 m.

Step 5:Establish preliminary length for reinforcing strips.


-

For abutments 0.7 (H1) should be sufficient; 0.7 (9.7) = 6.8 m, use 7 m as production is in
one half meter length increments.

Step 6:Size abutment footing.


-

With a minimum distance of 1.0 m from the front face to the centerline of bearing, the sizing
shown on figure 52 appears reasonable as a first iteration. Assuming a unit weight of
concrete at 23.6 kN/m3, the following can be computed per unit length.
V1
V2
V3
DL
LL
FS
F1
F2

=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=

23.01 kN
2.83 kN
13.69 kN
45 kN
50 kN
6.89 kN
15.17 kN
2.25 kN

- Check sliding, eccentricity and bearing pressure for the abutment footing.
FSsliding 

('VA  LL) tan 34o


'F

(134.53  50.0) 0.6745


24.31

FSsliding  2.35 > 1.5

ok

-182-

Figure 52. MSE abutment design example.


-183-

'MR  'MO

e 

bf

e 

1.50
104.1  20.39

2
134.53

'V

e   0.13 <
v 

bf
6

'V
bf  2e 

 0.25

ok

134.53
1.5  (2 @ 0.13)

v  108.5 kPa < 200 kPa

ok

Step 7:Check external stability with a reinforcement length of 7 m.


Refer to figure 52 for loads and distances:
V4
Vs
V5
F4
F3
Fa
VA
MRA
l1
-

=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=

987 kN
65.8 kN
289.52 kN
176.23 kN
126.89 kN
24.31 kN
134.53 kN
104.1 kN " m
2.9 m

Reinforced volume
Traffic surcharge
Wt. of soil block above reinforced volume
Horizontal earth pressure force component
Horizontal earth pressure force component
from abutment seat
from abutment seat including DL and LL.
from abutment seat including DL and LL.
see figure 32a

Compute net load P by removing the soil weight in abutment footing area:
P  'VA  (h   q) @ (b f  cf) @
 134.53  [ (2.20  0.05) (0.3  1.5) 18.8]
 43.16 kN

Compute MR and Mo about B as follows:

-184-

MR

MR

L
2

(V

+ V5 + VS + P ' b f +

M RA / V A )

7.0
104.10

( 987.0 + 289.52 + 6580


. ) + 4316
. 0.30 +
2
134.53

MR
MO

MO

= F4

= 176.23

= 4744.47 kN m

H
H
+ F3
+
3
2

FA H

l1

7.5
7.5
2.9

+ 126.89
+ 24.31 7.5

3
2
3

MO

= 1075.25kN m

Separating the surcharge moment:


L
7.0
 65.8 @
 230.3 kN @ m
MS  V S @
2
2
-

therefore, taking moments about B at the base level and subtracting the surcharge moment
for the worst case:
e 

('MR  MS )  'MO
L

'V  VS
2

e 

7.0
(4744.47  230.3 )  1075.25

2
1385.48  65.8

e  0.89 <
-

7.00
 1.17
6

ok

Compute bearing pressures at the foundation level:


v 

1385.48
7  (2 @ 0.89)

v  265.42 kPa < 300 kPa

ok

-185-

Check sliding FS:


FSsliding

['V  VS ] tan 30o

'F
(1385.48  65.8) 0.577

327.43
FS  2.33 > 1.50

ok

Step 8:Determine internal stability at each reinforcement level and required horizontal
spacing.
-

Compute coefficient of earth pressure at each level e.g. at 4.825 m from the top of backwall
or 2.625 m from the top of the MSE wall.
K = 0.367 (see figure 29)

Compute vertical soil pressure at depth of 2.625 m from top of MSE wall.
VS  (z  h   q)  18.8 (2.625  2.20  0.5)
 100.11 kPa

Compute vertical pressure from abutment footing. (See figure 31)


VA 

43.16
[ (1.5  2 (0.13) ]  (

2.625
 0.3)
2

 15.13 kPa

Determine supplemental horizontal pressure (see figure 32a) at level zi =


2.625 m.
l1  (bf  cf  2e ) tan (45  /2)
 (1.5  0.3  2 @ 0.13) tan 62  2.9m

at level zi therefore:

-186-

H 

2 FA (l1  z i)
2

2 @ 24.31 (2.9  2.625)


(2.9)2

l1

H  1.59 kPa
-

Compute horizontal pressure at the 2.625 m level.


H  (VS @ K)  (VA @ K)  H
 (100.11 @ 0.367)  (15.13 @ 0.367)  1.59
H  43.84 kPa

Step 9:Determine required reinforcement at 2.625 m level based on a defined length of 2


panels in length and spacing Sv.
-

Determine force on the tributary area:


T  43.84 @ 2.25  98.64 kN

Determine the effective length Le:


Le  L  0.3 H   7  (0.3 @ 9.7)  4.09 m

Determine number of strips required to satisfy pullout criteria:


T @ FS
N 
2b @ F  @ Le @ v


98.64 @ 1.5
2 @ 0.05 @ 0.934 @ 4.09 @ 18.8 (2.625  2.20)

N  4.27 use 5 strips

Place 3 strips in upper row, 2 in lower row.


-

For design life of 75 years.


Ec  4.00  1.416  2.584 mm

Maximum stress in each strip is:

-187-

fs 

T
98.64

N @ Ec
5 (0.0001292) 1000

 152.7 MPa < 227.5 MPa

ok

Calculate internal stability at each layer and determine the number of reinforcing strips per tributary
area. The tabulated results are as follows:

Hor.
Pressure
kPa

N
strips per
trib. area

Tensile
stress/
MPa

FS
pullout

0.4199

1.4311

49.32

143.15

1.53

92.40

0.4023

1.2655

47.42

165.18

1.52

1.875

103.40

0.3846

1.0998

45.70

159.18

1.68

2.625

115.22

0.3669

0.9341

43.89

152.87

1.75

3.375

127.56

0.3493

0.7684

44.55

155.18

1.82

4.125

140.28

0.3393

0.6745

47.59

165.75

1.86

4.875

153.25

0.3393

0.6745

51.99

181.08

2.08

5.625

166.42

0.3393

0.6745

56.46

196.64

2.29

6.375

179.73

0.3393

0.6745

60.98

212.38

2.51

7.125

193.16

0.3393

0.6745

65.53

190.20

3.26

Depth
z (m)

Vertical
Pressure
kPa

0.375

82.73

1.125

-188-

b. Computer-Aided Solution - MSEW Design of Example 5.6


The bridge abutment design example could also be designed using the computer program MSEW.
The input for the problem would be similar to Example 4.6 with the exception of inputting the bridge
abutment configuration and loading. Using MSEW, the following shows the input for the bridge
abutment and the results of the Design mode analysis.
< Load the MSEW program and input the project information as was done for example 4.6. On the
GEOMETRY/SURCHARGE screen click on
geometry. On the next screen, click
on the
.
< Turning the bridge abutment on
will then bring up the BRIDGE
ABUTMENTS Data input
screens. For this problem, use the
abutment on spreading footing
foundation option and input the
information from step 1 and
Figure 52 as follows.
< Click

each on the
button located in
the middle of the wall schematic.

-189-

on

< Input the bridge geometry information and click on

< Next click on each of the


buttons for vertical surcharge load and horizontal
surcharge load located under the CONCENTRATED section of the BRIDGE ABUTMENT
GEOMETRY screen. Enter the information from the example problem as demonstrate for the
vertical load below.

-190-

< Return to the main menu screens and input the information from
the example problem for the GEOMETRY/ SURCHARGE,
SOILS AND SEISMICITY, and REINFORCEMENT as was
done in computer solution of example 4.6. For the
REINFORCEMENT, in the initial design trial select Uniform
length of metal strip layers and equally spaced strips. Also,
check the minimum required length and the lateral earth
pressure coefficients. The program provides a default value
based on 0.7 H using H = 7.5. However, HTOTAL is H + h = 9.7
m. Change the default value to a length value of 0.7 HTOTAL =
6.8 m or 7.0 m as used in the example. The default values will
be used for the lateral earth pressure coefficients.
< The structural requirements for the reinforcement to support the
wall and abutment can now be designed. The following shows the output screen for the analysis
of the metallic strip type reinforcement, minimum length requirements and segmental concrete
facing panel used in the example problem. The program checks that the layout meets the required
factor of safety for each of the external and internal stability requirements. As can be seen from
the screen, the single reinforcement type with uniform spacing of Sv = 0.75 m and Sh = 0.75 does
not meet design strength requirements and the length is much longer than the minimum to achieve
pullout. An iterative process would now be used to evaluate the number of reinforcing strips
required in each layer (by adjusting the horizontal spacing) to meet the design requirements as was
done in the example problems. Increasing the number of reinforcements in any given layer will
also reduce the length
required for that layer.
The external stability
for each type of
analysis mode can also
be viewed from this
s creen wit h t h e
bearing capacity
analysis shown as an
example below. The
bearing capacity as
well as the other
ex ternal stability
calculations match the
calculations from the
example problem.

-191-

-192-

CHAPTER 6
REINFORCED (STEEPENED) SOIL SLOPES PROJECT EVALUATION
6.1

INTRODUCTION

Where limited right of way is available and the cost of a MSE wall is high, a steepened slope should
be considered. In this chapter the background and design requirements for evaluating a reinforced
soil slope (RSS) alternative are reviewed. Step-by-step design procedures are presented later in
chapter 7. Section 6.2 reviews the types of systems and the materials of construction. Section 6.3
provides a discussion of the internal stability design approach for use of reinforcement as compaction
aids, steepening slopes and slope repair. Computer assisted methods for internal stability evaluation
are also reviewed. The section concludes with a discussion of external stability requirements.
Section 6.4 reviews the construction sequence. Section 6.5 covers treatment of the outward face of
the slope to prevent erosion. Section 6.6 covers design details of appurtenant features including
traffic barrier and drainage considerations. Finally, section 6.7 presents several case histories to
demonstrate potential cost savings.

6.2

REINFORCED SOIL SLOPE SYSTEMS

a. Types of Systems
Reinforced soil systems consist of planar reinforcements arranged in nearly horizontal planes in the
backfill to resist outward movement of the reinforced fill mass. Facing treatments ranging from
vegetation to flexible armor systems are applied to prevent unraveling and sloughing of the face.
These systems are generic in nature and can incorporate any of a variety of reinforcements and
facing systems. Design assistance is often available through many of the reinforcement suppliers,
many of which have proprietary computer programs.
This manual does not cover reinforcing the base section of an embankment for construction over
soft soils, a different type reinforcement application. The user is referred to the FHWA
Geosynthetics Design and Construction Guidelines for that application.
b. Construction Materials
!

Reinforcement types. Reinforced soil slopes can be constructed with any of the
reinforcements described in chapter 2. While discrete strip type reinforcing elements can be
used, a majority of the systems are constructed with continuous sheets of geosynthetics (i.e.,
geotextiles or geogrids) or wire mesh. Small, discrete micro reinforcing elements such as
fibers, yarns, and microgrids located very close to each other have also been used. However,
the design is based on more conventional unreinforced design with cohesion added by the
reinforcement (which is not covered in this manual).

-193-

6.3

Backfill Requirements. Backfill requirements for reinforced soil slopes are discussed in
chapter 3. Because a flexible facing (e.g. wrapped facing) is normally used, minor distortion
at the face that may occur due to backfill settlement, freezing and thawing, or wetting and
drying can be tolerated. Thus, lower quality backfill than recommended for MSE walls can
be used. The recommended backfill is limited to low-plasticity, granular material (i.e., PI
# 20 and # 50 percent finer than 0.075 mm). However, with good drainage, careful
evaluation of soil and soil-reinforcement interaction characteristics, field construction
control, and performance monitoring (see chapter 9), most indigenous soil can be considered.

DESIGN APPROACH

a. Use Considerations
As reviewed in chapter 2, there are two main purposes for using reinforcement in slopes as follows:
!

Improved stability for steepened slopes and slope repair.

Compaction aids, for support of construction equipment and improved face stability.

The design of reinforcement for safe, steep slopes requires a rigorous analysis. The design of
reinforcement for this application is critical, as failure of the reinforcement would result in failure
of the slope.
The overall design requirements for reinforced slopes are similar to those for unreinforced slopes:
The factor of safety must be adequate for both the short-term and long-term conditions and for all
possible modes of failure.
As illustrated in figure 53, there are three failure modes for reinforced slopes:
!

Internal, where the failure plane passes through the reinforcing elements.

External, where the failure surface passes behind and underneath the reinforced mass.

Compound, where the failure surface passes behind and through the reinforced soil mass.

In some cases, the calculated stability safety factor can be approximately equal in two or all three
modes, if the reinforcement strengths, lengths and vertical spacing are optimized.(3)

-194-

Figure 53. Failure modes for reinforced soil slopes.


b. Design of Reinforcement for Compaction Aid
For the use of geosynthetics as compaction aids, the design is relatively simple. Assuming the slope
is safe without reinforcement, no reinforcement design is required. Place any geotextile or geogrid
that will survive construction at every lift or every other lift in a continuous plane along the edge
of the slope (see figure 4b). Only narrow strips, about 1.2 to 2 m (4 to 6 ft) in width, at 0.3 to 0.5
m (1 to 1.5 ft) vertical spacing are required. Where the slope angle approaches the angle of repose
of the soil, it is recommended that a face stability analysis be performed using the method presented
in the reinforcement design section of chapter 7. Where reinforcement is required by analysis, the
geosynthetic may be considered as secondary reinforcement used to improve compaction and
stabilize the slope face between primary reinforcing layers.
c. Design of Reinforcement for Steepening Slopes and Slope Repair
For steepened reinforced slopes (face inclination up to 70 degrees) and slope repair, design is based
on modified versions of the classical limit equilibrium slope stability methods as shown in figure
54:
!

Circular or wedge-type potential failure surface is assumed.

The relationship between driving and resisting forces or moments determines the slope factor
of safety.

-195-

Figure 54. Modified limit equilibrium analysis for reinforced slope design.

Reinforcement layers intersecting the potential failure surface are assumed to increase the
resisting force or moment based on their tensile capacity and orientation. (Usually, the shear
and bending strengths of stiff reinforcements are not taken into account.)

The tensile capacity of a reinforcement layer is taken as the minimum of its allowable pullout
resistance behind (or in front of) the potential failure surface and its long-term allowable
design strength.

As shown in figure 53, a wide variety of potential failure surfaces must be considered, including
deep-seated surfaces through or behind the reinforced zone. The critical slope stability factor of
safety is taken from the unreinforced failure surface requiring the maximum reinforcement. This
is the failure surface with the largest unbalance driving moment to resisting moment and not the
surface with the minimum calculated unreinforced factor of safety. This failure surface is equivalent
to the critical reinforced failure surface with the lowest factor of safety. Detailed design of
reinforced slopes is performed by determining the factor of safety with successively modified
reinforcement layouts until the target factor of safety is achieved.
For slope repair applications, it is also very important to identify the cause of the original failure to
make sure that the new reinforced soil slope will not have the same problems. If a water table or
erratic water flows exist, particular attention has to be paid to drainage. In natural soils, it is also
necessary to identify any weak seams that might affect stability.

-196-

The method presented in this manual uses any conventional slope stability computer program and
the steps necessary to manually calculate the reinforcement requirements for almost any condition.
Figure 54 shows the conventional rotational slip surface method used in the analysis. Fairly
complex conditions can be accommodated depending on the analytical method used (e.g., Modified
Bishop, Spencer). The computer programs ReSSA and RSS were developed by the FHWA to
specifically perform this analysis and is also presented.
The rotational slip surface approach is used for slopes up to 70 degrees, although technically it is
a valid method for evaluating even steeper slopes. Slopes steeper than 70 degrees are defined as
walls and lateral earth pressure procedures in chapter 4 apply.
The assumed orientation of the reinforcement tensile force influences the calculated slope safety
factor. In a conservative approach, the deformability of the reinforcements is not taken into account,
and thus, the tensile forces per unit width of reinforcement Tr are assumed to always be in the
horizontal direction of the reinforcements. When close to failure, however, the reinforcements may
elongate along the failure surface, and an inclination from the horizontal can be considered.
The above reinforcement orientations represent a simplifying assumption considering the
reinforcement is not incorporated directly into the analysis of the slope. If a more rigorous
evaluation is performed in which the vertical and horizontal components of the tension forces are
included in the equations of equilibrium, then it can be seen that an increase in normal stress will
occur for reinforcements with an orientation other than tangential to the failure surface.(4) In effect,
this increase in normal stress will result in practically the same reinforcement influence on the safety
factor whether it is assumed to act tangentially or horizontally. Although these equilibrium
considerations may indicate that the horizontal assumption is conservative for inextensible
reinforcements, it should be recognized that the stress distribution near the point of intersection of
the reinforcement and the failure surface is complicated. The conclusion concerning an increase
in normal stress should only be considered for continuous and closely spaced reinforcements: it is
questionable and should not be applied to reinforced slopes with widely spaced and/or discrete, strip
type reinforcements.
Tensile force direction is, therefore, dependent on the extensibility and continuity of the
reinforcements used, and the following inclination is suggested:
!

Discrete, Strip Reinforcements:

Continuous, Sheet Reinforcements: T tangent to the sliding surface.

T parallel to the reinforcements.

d. Computer-Assisted Design
The ideal method for reinforced slope design is to use a conventional slope stability computer
program that has been modified to account for the stabilizing effect of reinforcement. Such
programs should account for reinforcement strength and pullout capacity, compute reinforced and
unreinforced safety factors automatically, and have some searching routine to help locate critical
surfaces. The method would also include the confinement effects of the reinforcement on the shear
strength of the soil in the vicinity of the reinforcement.
-197-

A generic program RSS developed by FHWA for both reinforcement design and evaluation of
almost any condition will be reviewed following the design methodology presentation. The
program uses an extensively modified version of the STABL computer program originally
developed at Purdue University and the guidelines for the design of soil reinforcement given in
chapter 7. The input and output of RSS will be demonstrated for the example problems in chapter
7. It should be noted that this program has undergone extensive review and validation by engineers
from state and federal agencies, industry, universities and private practice.
RSS may be downloaded free of charge from the FHWA Geotechnical Information Center at
www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge or a disk copy may be purchased from the Center for Microcomputers
in Transportation (McTrans) at www.mctrans.ce.ufl.edu. The program is supported by FHWA for
all state and federal agencies. For private sector users and others, a supported licensed version is
available from the developer GEOCOMP through their web page at
www.geocomp.com/software.htm.
A windows version of the reinforced soil slope program, ReSSA, is currently under development
by FHWA and should be distributed in 2001.
Several other reinforced slope programs are commercially available. These programs generally do
not design the reinforcement but allow for an evaluation of a given reinforcement layout. An
iterative approach then follows to optimize either the reinforcement strength or layout. Most of the
programs are limited to simple soil profiles and, in some cases, simple reinforcement layouts. Also,
external stability evaluation is generally limited to specific soil and reinforcement conditions and
a single mode of failure. In some cases, the programs are reinforcement- specific.
With computerized analyses, the actual factor of safety value FS is dependent upon how the specific
program accounts for the reinforcement tension in the moment equilibrium equation. The method
of analysis in chapter 7 and in FHWAs RSS program, as well as many others, assume the
reinforcement force as contributing to the resisting moment, i.e.:

FSR 

where,

FSR
MR
MD
TS

=
=
=
=

MR  TS R
MD

the stability factor of safety required;


resisting moment provided by the strength of the soil;
driving moment about the center of the failure circle;
sum of required tensile force per unit width of reinforcement
(considering rupture and pullout) in all reinforcement layers
intersecting the failure surface;
the moment arm of TS about the center of failure circle as
shown in figure 54.

With this assumption, FSR is applied to both the soil and the reinforcement as part of the
analysis. As a result, as indicated in Chapter 3, the factor of safety applied to the ultimate
-198-

strength TULT to obtain the allowable tensile force per unit width Ta in equation 14 is equal
to 1. Ta is thus equal to the long-term strength Tal and the factor of safety on the
reinforcement is equal to FSR.
Some computer programs use an assumption that the reinforcement force is a negative
driving component, thus the FS is computed as:
FS 

MR
MD  TS R

With this assumption, the stability factor of safety is not applied to TS. Therefore, the
allowable design strength Ta should be computed as the ultimate tensile strength TULT divided
by the required safety factor (i.e., target stability factor of safety) along with the appropriate
reduction factors RF in equation 12 (i.e., Ta = TULT / FSR). This provides an appropriate factor
of safety for uncertainty in material strengths and reduction factors. The method used to
develop design charts should likewise be carefully evaluated to determine FS used to obtain
the allowable geosynthetic strength.
e.

Evaluation of External Stability


The external stability of a reinforced soil mass depends on the ability of the mass to act as
a stable block and withstand all external loads without failure. Failure possibilities as shown
in figure 55 include sliding, deep-seated overall instability, local bearing capacity failure at
the toe (lateral squeeze type failure), as well as excessive settlement from both short- and
long-term conditions.
The reinforced mass must be sufficiently wide at any level to resist sliding. To evaluate
sliding stability, a wedge type failure surface defined by the limits of the reinforcement can
be analyzed using the conventional sliding block method of analysis as detailed in the FHWA
Soils and Foundations Workshop Reference Manual, (2000).(20)
Conventional soil mechanics stability methods should also be used to evaluate the global
stability of the reinforced soil mass. Both rotational and wedge type failure surfaces
extending behind and below the structure should be considered. Care should be taken to
identify any weak soil layers in the soils behind or below the reinforced soil mass.
Compound failure surfaces initiating externally and passing through or between
reinforcement sections should also be evaluated, especially for complex slope or soil
conditions. Evaluation of potential seepage forces is especially critical for global stability
analysis.
Evaluation of deep-seated failure does not automatically check for bearing capacity of the
foundation or failure at the toe of the slope. High lateral stresses in a confined soft stratum
beneath the embankment could lead to a lateral squeeze type failure. The shear forces
developed under the embankment should be compared to the corresponding shear strength
of the soil. Approaches discussed by Jurgenson, Silvestri, and Bonaparte, Giroud, and Holtz

-199-

are appropriate. (5, 6, 7) The approach by Silvestri is demonstrated in example problem 2 in


chapter 7.

Figure 55.

External failure modes for reinforced soil slopes.

-200-

Settlement should be evaluated for both total and differential movement. While settlement
of the reinforced slope is not of concern, adjacent structures or structures supported by the
slope may not tolerate such movements. Differential movements can also effect decisions
on facing elements as discussed previously in chapter 2.
In areas subject to potential seismic activity, a simple pseudo-static type analysis should be
performed using a seismic coefficient obtained from Division 1A of the AASHTO Standard
Specifications for Highway Bridges (1996) or using local practice. Reinforced slopes are
flexible systems and unless used for bridge abutments they are not laterally restrained. Thus
it is appropriate to use Am = A/2 for seismic design in accordance with the AASHTO code.
Am is equivalent to the horizontal seismic coefficient Kh used in many slope stability
programs.
If any of the external stability safety factors are less than the required factor of safety, the
following foundation improvement options could be considered:
!

Excavate and replace soft soil.

Flatten the slope.

Construct a berm at the toe of the slope to provide an equivalent flattened slope. The
berm could be placed as a surcharge at the toe and removed after consolidation of the
soil has occurred.

Stage construct the slope to allow time for consolidation and improvement of the
foundation soils.

Embed the slope below grade (>1 m), or construct a shear key at the toe of the slope
(evaluate based on active-passive resistance).

Use ground improvement techniques (e.g., wick drains, stone columns, etc.)

Additional information on ground improvement techniques can be found in the FHWAs Ground
Improvement Manual DP116.

6.4

CONSTRUCTION SEQUENCE

As the reinforcement layers are easily incorporated between the compacted lifts of fill, construction
of reinforced slopes is very similar to normal slope construction. The elements of construction
consist of simply:
1.

Placing the soil.

2.

Placing the reinforcement.

-201-

3.

Constructing the face.

The following is the usual construction sequence as shown in figure 56:


!

Site Preparation
-

Clear and grub site.

Remove all slide debris (for slope reinstatement projects).

Prepare a level subgrade for placement of the first level of reinforcement.

Proof-roll subgrade at the base of the slope with a roller or rubber-tired vehicle.

Observe and approve foundation prior to fill placement.

Reinforcing Layer Placement


-

Reinforcement should be placed with the principal strength direction perpendicular


to the face of the slope.

Secure reinforcement with retaining pins to prevent movement during fill placement.

A minimum overlap of 150 mm (6 inches) is recommended along the edges


perpendicular to the slope for wrapped face structures. Alternatively, with geogrid
reinforcement, the edges may be clipped or tied together. When geosynthetics are
not required for face support, no overlap is required and edges should be butted.

Reinforcement Backfill Placement


-

Place fill to the required lift thickness on the reinforcement using a front end loader
or dozer operating on previously placed fill or natural ground.

Maintain a minimum of 150 mm (6 inches) of fill between the reinforcement and the
wheels or tracks of construction equipment.

Compact with a vibratory roller or plate type compactor for granular materials or a
rubber-tired or smooth drum roller for cohesive materials.

When placing and compacting the backfill material, care should be taken to avoid any
deformation or movement of the reinforcement.

Use lightweight compaction equipment near the slope face to help maintain face
alignment.

-202-

Figure 56.

Construction of reinforced soil slopes.


-203-

Compaction Control
-

Provide close control on the water content and density of the backfill. It should be
compacted to at least 95 percent of the standard AASHTO T99 maximum density
within 2 percent of optimum moisture.

If the backfill is a coarse aggregate, then a relative density or a method type


compaction specification should be used.

Face Construction
Slope facing requirements will depend on soil type, slope angle and the reinforcement
spacing as shown in table 13.
If slope facing is required to prevent sloughing (i.e., slope angle is greater than soil) or
erosion, several options are available. Sufficient reinforcement lengths could be provided
for wrapped faced structures. A face wrap may not be required for slopes up to 1H:1V as
indicated in figure 56. In this case, the reinforcement can be simply extended to the face.
For this option, a facing treatment as detailed under Treatment of Outward Face, should be
applied at sufficient intervals during construction to prevent face erosion. For wrapped or
no wrap construction, the reinforcement should be maintained at close spacing (i.e., every
lift or every other lift but no greater than 400 mm (16 inches)). For armored, hard faced
systems the maximum spacing should be no greater than 800 mm (32 inches). A positive
frictional or mechanical connection should be provided between the reinforcement and
armored type facing systems.
The following procedures are recommended for wrapping the face.
-

Turn up reinforcement at the face of the slope and return the reinforcement a
minimum of 1 m (3 ft) into the embankment below the next reinforcement layer (see
figure 56).

For steep slopes, form work may be required to support the face during construction,
especially if lift thicknesses of 450 to 600 mm (18 to 24 inches) or greater are used.

For geogrids, a fine mesh screen or geotextile may be required at the face to retain
backfill materials.

Slopes steeper than approximately 1:1 typically require facing support during construction.
Exact slope angles will vary with soil types, i.e., amount of cohesion. Removable facing
supports (e.g., wooden forms) or left-in-place welded wire mesh forms are typically used.
Facing support may also serve as permanent or temporary erosion protection, depending on
the requirements of the slope.

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Table 13. RSS slope facing options.(after 19)


Type of Facing
Slope Face Angle and
Soil Type

When Geosynthetic is not Wrapped at Face

When Geosynthetic is Wrapped at Face

Vegetated Face1

Hard Facing2

Vegetated Face1

Hard Facing2

> 50o
(> ~0.9H:1V)
All Soil Types

Not Recommended

Gabions

Sod
Permanent
Erosion Blanket
w/ seed

Wire Baskets
Stone
Shotcrete

35o to 50o
(~ 1.4H:1V to 0.9H:1V)
Clean Sands (SP)3
Rounded Gravel (GP)

Not Recommended

Gabions
Soil-Cement

Sod
Permanent
Erosion Blanket
w/ seed

Wire Baskets
Stone
Shotcrete

35o to 50o
(~ 1.4H:1V to 0.9H:1V)
Silts (ML)
Sandy Silts (ML)

Bioreinforcement
Drainage
Composites4

Gabions
Soil-Cement
Stone Veneer

Sod
Permanent
Erosion Blanket
w/ seed

Wire Baskets
Stone
Shotcrete

35o to 50o
(~ 1.4H:1V to 0.9H:1V)
Silty Sands (SM)
Clayey Sands (SC)
Well graded sands and
gravels (SW & GW)

Temporary
Erosion Blanket
w/ Seed or Sod
Permanent
Erosion Mat
w/ Seed or Sod

Hard Facing
Not Needed

Geosynthetic
Wrap Not
Needed

Geosynthetic
Wrap Not
Needed

25o to 35o
(~ 2H:1V to 1.4H:1V)
All Soil Types

Temporary
Erosion Blanket
w/ Seed or Sod
Permanent
Erosion Mat
w/ Seed or Sod

Hard Facing
Not Needed

Geosynthetic
Wrap Not
Needed

Geosynthetic
Wrap Not
Needed

Notes:

1. Vertical spacing of reinforcement (primary/secondary) shall be no greater than 400 mm with primary
reinforcements spaced no greater than 800 mm when secondary reinforcement is used.
2. Vertical spacing of primary reinforcement shall be no greater than 800 mm.
3. Unified Soil Classification
4. Geosynthetic or natural horizontal drainage layers to intercept and drain the saturated soil at the face of the slope.

Additional Reinforcing Materials and Backfill Placement


If drainage layers are required, they should be constructed directly behind or on the sides of
the reinforced section.

6.5

TREATMENT OF OUTWARD FACE

a.

Grass Type Vegetation


Stability of a slope can be threatened by erosion due to surface water runoff. Erosion control
and revegetation measures must, therefore, be an integral part of all reinforced slope system
designs and specifications. If not otherwise protected, reinforced slopes should be vegetated
after construction to prevent or minimize erosion due to rainfall and runoff on the face.
Vegetation requirements will vary by geographic and climatic conditions and are, therefore,
project specific.
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For the unwrapped face (the soil surface exposed), erosion control measures are necessary
to prevent unraveling and sloughing of the face. A wrapped face helps reduce erosion
problems; however, treatments are still required on the face to shade the geosynthetic and
prevent ultraviolet light exposure that will degrade the geosynthetic over time. In either case,
conventional vegetated facing treatments generally rely on low growth, grass type vegetation
with more costly flexible armor occasionally used where vegetation can not be established.
Geosynthetic reinforced slopes can be difficult sites to establish and maintain grass type
vegetative cover due to the steep grades that can be achieved. The steepness of the grade
limits the amount of water absorbed by the soil before runoff occurs. Although root
penetration should not affect the reinforcement, the reinforcement will most likely restrict
root growth. This can have an adverse influence on the growth of some plants. Grass is also
frequently ineffective where slopes are impacted by waterways.
A synthetic (permanent) erosion control mat is normally used to improve the performance
of grass cover. This mat must also be stabilized against ultra-violet light and should be inert
to naturally occurring soil-born chemicals and bacteria. The erosion control mat serves to:
1) protect the bare soil face against erosion until the vegetation is established; 2) assist in
reducing runoff velocity for increased water absorption by the soil, thus promoting long-term
survival of the vegetative cover; and 3) reinforce the surficial root system of the vegetative
cover.
Once vegetation is established on the face, it must be protected to ensure long-term survival.
Maintenance issues, such as mowing, must also be carefully considered. The shorter, weaker
root structure of most grasses may not provide adequate reinforcement and erosion
protection. Grass is highly susceptible to fire, which can also destroy the synthetic erosion
control mat. Downdrag from snow loads or upland slides may also strip matting and
vegetation off the slope face. The low erosion tolerance combined with other factors
previously mentioned creates a need to evaluate revegetation measures as an integral part of
the design. Slope face protection should not be left to the construction contractor or vendor's
discretion. Guidance should be obtained from maintenance and regional landscaping groups
in the selection of the most appropriate low maintenance vegetation.
b.

Soil Bioengineering (Woody Vegetation)


An alternative to low growth, grass type vegetation is the use of soil bioengineering methods
to establish hardier, woody type vegetation in the face of the slope (24). Soil bioengineering
uses living vegetation purposely arranged and imbedded in the ground to prevent shallow
mass movement and surficial erosion. However, the use of soil bioengineering in itself is
limited to stable slope masses. Combining this highly erosive system with geosynthetic
reinforcement produces a very durable, low maintenance structure with exceptional aesthetic
and environmental qualities.
Appropriately applied, soil bioengineering offers a cost-effective and attractive approach for
stabilizing slopes against erosion and shallow mass movement, capitalizing on the benefits
and advantages that vegetation offers. The value of vegetation in civil engineering and the
role woody vegetation plays in the stabilization of slopes has gained considerable recognition
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in recent years (25). Woody vegetation improves the hydrology and mechanical stability of
slopes through root reinforcement and surface protection. The use of deeply-installed and
rooted woody plant materials, purposely arranged and imbedded during slope construction
offers:
!
Immediate erosion control for slopes; stream, and shoreline;
!
Improved face stability through mechanical reinforcement by roots;
!
Reduced maintenance costs, with less need to return to revegetate or cut grass;
!
Modification of soil moisture regimes through improved drainage and depletion of
soil moisture and increase of soil suction by root uptake and transpiration;
!
Enhanced wildlife habitat and ecological diversity; and
!
Improved aesthetic quality and naturalization.
The biological and mechanical elements must be analyzed and designed to work together in
an integrated and complementary manner to achieve the required project goals. In addition
to using engineering principles to analyze and design the slope stabilization systems, plant
science and horticulture are needed to select and establish the appropriate vegetation for root
reinforcement, erosion control, aesthetics and the environment. Numerous areas of expertise
must integrate to provide the knowledge and awareness required for success. RSS systems
require knowledge of the mechanisms involving mass and surficial stability of slopes.
Likewise when the vegetative aspects are appropriate to serve as reinforcements and drains,
an understanding of the hydraulic and mechanical effects of slope vegetation is necessary.
Figure 57 shows a cross section of the components of a vegetated reinforced slope (VRSS)
system. The design details for face construction include vegetation selection, placement, and
development as will as several agronomic and geotechnical design issues (24).
!

Vegetation Selection
The vegetation used in the VRSS system is typically in the form of live
woody branch cuttings from species that root adventitiously or from, bare
root and/or container plants. Plant materials may be selected for a variety of
tolerances including: drought, salt, flooding, fire, deposition, and shade.
They may be chosen for their environmental wildlife value, water cleansing
capabilities, flower, branch and leaf color or fruits. Other interests for
selection may include size, form, rate of growth rooting characteristics and
ease of propagation. Time of year for construction of a VRSS system also
plays a critical roll in plant selection.

Vegetation Placement
The decision to use natives, naturalized or ornamental species is also an
important consideration. The plant materials are placed on the frontal section
of the formed terraces. Typically 150 to 300 mm (6 to 12 inches), protrudes
beyond the constructed terrace edge or finished face, and 0.5 to 3 m (1.5 to
10 ft) of the live branch cuttings when used are embedded in the reinforced
backfill behind, or as in the case of rooted plants, are placed 0.3 to 1 m (1 to
3 ft) in the backfill. The process of plant installation is best and least

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expensive when it occurs simultaneously with the conventional construction


activities, but may be incorporated later if necessary.

Figure 57. Components of a vegetated reinforced slope (VRSS) system.

Vegetation Development
Typically soil bioengineering VRSS systems offer immediate results from the
surface erosion control structural/mechanical and hydraulic perspectives.
Over time, (generally within the first year) they develop substantial top and
root growth further enhancing those benefits, as well as providing aesthetic
and environmental values.

Design Issues
There are several agronomic and geotechnical design issues that must be
considered, especially in relation to selection of geosynthetic reinforcement
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and type of vegetation. Considerations include root and top growth potential.
The root growth potential consideration is important when face reinforcement
enhancement is required. This will require a review of the vertical spacing
based on the anticipated root growth for the specific type of plant. In addition
to spacing, the selected type of reinforcements is also important. Open-mesh
geogrid-type reinforcements, for example, are excellent as the roots will grow
through the grid and further "knit" the system together. On the other hand,
geocomposites, providing both reinforcement and lateral drainage, offer
enhanced water and oxygen opportunities for the healthy development of the
woody vegetation. Dependent upon the species selected, aspect, climatic
conditions, soils etc., dense woody vegetation can provide ultraviolet light
protection within the first growing season and maintain the cover thereafter.
In arid regions, geosynthetics that will promote moisture movement into the
slope such as non-woven geotextiles or geocomposites may be preferred.
Likewise, the need for water and nutrients in the slope to sustain and promote
vegetative growth must be balanced against the desire to remove water so as
to reduce hydrostatic pressures. Plants can be installed to promote drainage
toward geosynthetic drainage net composites placed at the back of the
reinforced soil section.
Organic matter is not required; however, a medium that provides nourishment
for plant growth and development is necessary. As mentioned earlier, the
agronomic needs must be balanced with the geotechnical requirements, but
these are typically compatible. For both, a well-drained backfill is needed.
The plants also require sufficient fines to provide moisture and nutrients
while this may be a limitation, under most circumstances, some slight
modifications in the specifications to allow for some non-plastic fines in the
backfill in the selected frontal zone offers a simple solution to this problem.
While many plants can be installed throughout the year, the most cost
effective, highest rate of survival and best overall performance and function
occurs when construction is planned around the dormant season for the
plants, or just prior to the rainy season. This may require some specific
construction coordination in relation to the placement of fill, and in some
cases may preclude the use of a VRSS structure.
c.

Armored
A permanent facing such as gunite or emulsified asphalt may be applied to a RSS slope face
to provide long-term ultra-violet protection, if the geosynthetic UV resistance is not adequate
for the life of the structure. Welded wire mesh or gabions may also be used to facilitate face
construction and provide permanent facing systems.
!

Other armored facing elements may include riprap, stone veneer, articulating modular
units, or fabric-formed concrete.
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Structural elements

Structural facing elements (see MSE walls) may also be used, especially if discrete
reinforcing elements such as metallic strips are used. These facing elements may include
prefabricated concrete slabs, modular precast blocks, or precast slabs.

6.6

DESIGN DETAILS

As with MSE wall projects, certain design details must often be considered that are not directly
connected with internal or external stability evaluation. These important details include:
!

Guardrail and traffic barriers.

Drainage considerations.

Obstructions.

a.

Guardrail and Traffic Barriers


Guardrails are usually necessary for steeper highway embankment slopes. Guardrail posts
usually can be installed in their standard manner (i.e. drilling or driving) through
geosynthetic reinforcements. Special wedge shaped shoes can be used to facilitate
installation. This does not significantly impair the overall strength of the geosynthetic and
no adjustments in the design are required. Alternatively, post or concrete form tubes at post
locations can be installed during construction. Either this procedure or cantilever type
guardrail systems are generally used for metallic reinforcement.
Impact traffic load on barriers constructed at the face of a reinforced soil slope is designed
on the same basis as an unreinforced slope. The traffic barrier may be designed to resist the
overturning moment in accordance with Article 2.7 in Division I of AASHTO Standard
Specifications for Highway Bridges (1996 through 2000 interims) or as addressed in the
1989 AASHTO Roadside Design Guide, and will be covered in detail in Chapter 7.

b.

Drainage Considerations
Uncontrolled subsurface water seepage can decrease stability of slopes and could ultimately
result in slope failure.
!

Hydrostatic forces on the back of the reinforced mass will decrease stability against
sliding failure.

Uncontrolled seepage into the reinforced mass will increase the weight of the
reinforced mass and may decrease the shear strength of the soil, and decreasing
stability.
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Seepage through the mass can reduce pullout capacity of the geosynthetic at the face
and increase soil weight, creating erosion and sloughing problems.

Drains are typically placed at the rear of the reinforced soil mass to control subsurface water
seepage as detailed in chapter 7. Surface runoff should also be diverted at the top of the
slope to prevent it from flowing over the face.
c.

Obstructions
If encountered in a design, guidance provided in chapter 4 should be considered.

6.7

CASE HISTORIES

The following case histories are presented to provide representative examples of cost-effective,
successful reinforced slope projects. In several cases, instrumentation was used to confirm the
performance of the structure. All project information was obtained from the indicated reference
which, in most cases, contains additional details.
a.

The Dickey Lake Roadway Grade Improvement Project (8)


Dickey Lake is located in northern Montana approximately 40 km south of the Canadian
border. Reconstruction of a portion of U.S. 93 around the shore of Dickey Lake required the
use of an earth-retention system to maintain grade and alignment. The fill soils available in
the area consist primarily of glacial till. Groundwater is active in the area. A slope stability
factor of safety criteria of 1.5 was established for the embankments. A global stability
analysis of reinforced concrete retaining walls to support the proposed embankment indicated
a safety factor that was less than required. Analysis of a reinforced soil wall or slope
indicated higher factors of safety. Based on an evaluation of several reinforcement systems,
a decision was made to use a reinforced slope for construction of the embankment. MDOT
decided that the embankment would not be designed in-house, due to their limited
experience with this type of structure. Proposals were solicited from a variety of suppliers,
who were required to design the embankment. An outside consultant, experienced in
geosynthetic reinforcement design, was retained to review all submittals.
Plans and specifications for the geosynthetic reinforced embankments(s) were developed by
MDOT, with the plans indicating the desired finished geometry. The slopes generally ranged
from 9 m to 18 m (30 to 60 ft) in height. Face angles varied from 1.5H:1V to 0.84H:1V with
the typical angle being 1H:1V. The chosen supplier provided a design that utilized both
uniaxially and biaxially oriented geogrids. The resulting design called for primary
reinforcing grids 4.6 to 18.3 m (15 to 60 ft) long and spaced 0.6 to 1.2 m (2 to 4 ft) vertically
throughout the reinforced embankment. The ultimate strength of the primary reinforcement
was on the order of 100 kN/m. The length of primary reinforcement was partially dictated
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by global stability concerns. In addition, intermediate reinforcement consisting of lower


strength, biaxial geogrids, was provided in lengths of 1.5 m (5 ft) with a vertical spacing of
0.3 m (1 ft) at the face of slopes 1H:1V or flatter. Erosion protection on the 1H:1V or flatter
sections was accomplished by using an organic erosion blanket. Steeper sections (maximum
0.84H:1V) used L-shaped, welded wire forms with a biaxial grid wrap behind the wire. A
design evaluation of this project is presented in chapter 7.
The design also incorporated subsurface drainage. This drainage was judged to be
particularly important due to springs or seeps present along the backslope of the
embankment. The design incorporated geocomposite prefabricated drains placed along the
backslope, draining into a French drain at the toe of the backslope. Laterals extending under
the embankment were used to "daylight" the French drain.
The project was constructed in 1989 at a cost of approximately $180/m2 of vertical face and
has been periodically monitored by visual inspection and slope inclinometers. Project photos
are shown in figure 58 To date, the embankment performance has been satisfactory with no
major problems observed. Some minor problems have been reported with respect to the
erosion control measures and some minor differential movement in one of the lower sections
of the embankment.

-212-

Figure 58.

Dickey Lake site.

-213-

b.

Salmon-Lost Trail Roadway Widening Project (9)


As part of a highway widening project in Idaho, the Federal Highway Administration
designed and supervised the construction of a 172-m-long, 15.3-m-high, permanent
geosynthetic-reinforced slope to compare its performance with retaining structures along the
same alignment. Widening of the original road was achieved by turning the original 2H:1V
unreinforced slope into a 1H:1V reinforced slope.
Aesthetics was an important
consideration in the selection of the retaining structures along scenic Highway 93, which has
been recognized by a recent article in National Geographic. A vegetated facing was,
therefore, used for the reinforced slope section. On-site soil consisting of decomposed
granite was used as the backfill. An important factor in the design was to deal with seeps or
weeps coming out of the existing slope. Geotextile reinforcements with an in plane
transmissivity were selected to evaluate the potential of modifying the seepage regime in the
slope.
The geotextile-reinforced slope was designed in accordance with the guidelines presented
in chapters 6 and 7 of this manual. The final design consisted of two reinforced zones with
a constant reinforcing spacing of 0.3 m (1 ft). The reinforcement in the lower zone had an
ultimate tensile strength of 100 kN/m (6,850 plf), and the reinforcement in the upper zone
had a reinforcement strength of 20 kN/m (1,370 plf). The reinforcement strength was
reduced based on partial reduction factors which were reviewed in chapter 3. Field tests
were used to reduce the reduction factor for construction damage from 2.0 to 1.1 at a
substantial savings to the project (40 percent reduction in reinforcement).
The construction was completed in 1993 (see figure 59 for project photos). The structure
was constructed as an experimental features project and was instrumented with inclinometers
within the reinforced zone, extensometers on the reinforcement, and piezometers within and
at the back of the reinforced section. Survey monitoring was also performed during
construction. Total lateral displacements recorded during construction were on the order of
0.1 to 0.2 percent of the height of the slope, with maximum strains in the reinforcement
measured at only 0.2 percent. Post construction movement has not been observed within the
accuracy of the instruments. These measurements indicate the excellent performance of the
structure as well as the conservative nature of the design. Long-term monitoring is
continuing.
The steepened slope was constructed at a faster rate and proved more economical than the
other retaining structures constructed along the same alignment. The constructed cost of the
reinforced slope section was on the order of $160/m2 of vertical face. MSE wall costs in
other areas of the site were on the order of $240/m2 of vertical face for similar or lower
heights.

-214-

Figure 59.

Salmon Lost Trail site.

-215-

c.

Cannon Creek Alternate Embankment Construction Project (10)


A large embankment was planned to carry Arkansas State Highway 16 over Cannon Creek.
The proposed 77,000 m3 (100,000 yd3) embankment had a maximum height of 23 m (75 ft)
and was to be constructed with on-site clay soils and 2H:1V side slopes (with questionable
stability). A cast-in-place concrete box culvert was first constructed to carry the creek under
the embankment. Embankment construction commenced but was halted quickly when
several small slope failures occurred. It then became apparent that the embankment fill could
not be safely constructed at 2H:1V.
With the box culvert in place, there were two options for continuation of embankment
construction. A gravelly soil could be used for embankment fill, or the on-site soils could
be used with geosynthetic reinforcement. Both options were bid as alternatives and the
geosynthetic option was used in construction (see figure 60). The reinforcement used was
a high-density polyethylene geogrid with a reported wide-width strength of 100 kN/m. The
geogrid reinforcement option was estimated to be $200,000 less expensive than the gravelly
soil fill option.

Figure 60.

Cannon Creek project.


-216-

d.

Pennsylvania SR 54 Roadway Repair Project (11)


During the winter of 1993 - 1994, a sinkhole formed in a section of State Route 54 in
Pennsylvania. Further investigation revealed that an abandoned railroad tunnel had
collapsed. The traditional repair would have involved the removal and replacement of the
15-m-high embankment. The native soil, a sandy clay, was deemed an unsuitable backfill
soil due to its wet nature and potential stability and settlement problems with the
embankment. Imported granular fill to replace the native soil was estimated to be $16/m3.
Due to the high cost of replacement materials, the Pennsylvania Department of
Transportation decided to use geosynthetics to provide drainage of the native soil and
reinforce the side slopes. A nonwoven geotextile was selected to allow for pore pressure
dissipation of the native soil during compaction, thus accelerating consolidation settlement
and improving its strength. Field tests were used to confirm pore pressure response.
With the geotextile placed at a compacted lift spacing of 0.3 m (1 ft) full pore pressure
dissipation was provided within approximately 4 days as compared with a minimum
dissipation (approximately 25 percent) without the geosynthetic during the same time period.
By placing the geotextile at 0.3 m (1 ft) lift intervals, the effective drainage path was reduced
from the full height of the slope (15 m) to 0.15 m (0.5 ft) or by a factor of over 100. This
meant that consolidation of the embankment would essentially be completed by the end of
construction as opposed to waiting almost a year for completion of the settlement without
the geosynthetic.
The geotextile, with an ultimate strength of 16 kN/m and placed at every lift (0.3 m), also
provided sufficient reinforcement to safely construct 1.5H:1V side slopes. Piezometers at
the base and middle of the slope during construction were used to confirm the test pad
results. Deformations of the geotextile in the side slope were also monitored and found to
be less than the precision of the gages ( 1 percent strain). Project photos are shown in
figure 61 along with the measurements of pore pressure dissipation during construction.
The contractor was paid on a time and material basis with the geotextile purchased by the
agency and provided to the contractor for installation. The cost of the geotextile was
approximately $1/m2. In-place costs of the geotextile, along with the on-site fill averaged
just over $4/m3 for a total cost of $70,000, resulting in a savings of $199,000 over the selectfill alternative. Additional savings resulted from not having to remove the on-site soils from
the project site.

-217-

80

Pore Pressure (kPa)

70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
-10
0

20

40

T ime (days)

Figure 61.

Pennsylvania SR54.

-218-

60

80

e.

Massachusetts Turnpike - Use of Soil Bioengineering (26, 27)


The Massachusetts Turnpike in Charlton, Massachusetts is an example where a vegetated
reinforced slope (VRSS) system was used to construct 1H:4V slopes to replace unstable
1.5H:1V slopes along a 150 m (500 ft) section of the Turnpike. This slope eroded for a
number of years. The erosion was widening and threatening to move back into private
property beyond the right-of-way. Eventually, the increased maintenance to clean up the
sloughed material, the visual scar on the landscape and the threat of private property loss
prompted the Turnpike Authority to seek a solution. The combined soil bioengineering and
geosynthetic reinforcement approach was adopted to meet the narrow right-of-way
requirement, assist in controlling internal drainage, and reconstruct an aesthetically pleasing
and environmentally sound system that would blend into the natural landscape. The 3 to 18
m (10 to 60 ft) high 1H:4V slope was stabilized with layers of primary and secondary
geogrids, erosion control blankets, brushlayers in the frontal geogrid wrapped portion of the
face, and soil bioengineering treatments above the constructed slope.
The design was essentially the same as the soil bioengineering cross section shown in figure
57. The primary geogrid was designed to provide global, internal and compound stability
to the slope. This grid extends approximately 6.1 m (20 ft) from the face to the back of the
slope. The vertical spacing of the primary geogrid is 0.6 m (2 ft) and 1.2 m (4 ft),
respectively, over the lower and upper halves of the slope. The face wrap extends
approximately 0.9 m (3 ft) into the slope at the bottom of each vertical lift and 1.5 m (5 ft)
at the top to form 0.9 m (3 ft) thick earthen terraces. Brushlayers consisting of 2.4 m to 3 m
(8 to 10 ft) long willow (Salix sp.) and dogwood (Cornus sp.) live cut branches were placed
on each constructed wrapped section at a vertical spacing of 0.9 m (1 ft), extending back to
approximately the mid point of the slope. The branches and geogrids were sloped back to
promote drainage to backdrains placed in the slopes while providing moisture for the plants.
Live fascine bundles (see figure 62) were installed above the reinforced slope in a 3H:1V
cut section to prevent surface erosion and assist in revegetating that portion of the slope.
The backdrain system consisted of 1 m (3.3 ft ) wide geocomposite panels spaced 4.6 m (15
ft) on center. Design of the panels and spacing was based on the anticipated groundwater
flow and surface infiltration conditions. The panels connect into a 0.3 m (1 ft) thick crushedstone drainage layer at the base of the slope, which extends the full length and width of the
slope. The backfill soils consisted of granular borrow, ordinary borrow, 50/50 mix and
specified fill. The first three materials constitute the structurally competent core while the
specified fill was placed at the face to provide a media amenable to plant growth. The
specified fill consisted of fertilizers and a blend of four parts ordinary borrow to one part
organic loam by volume and was used in the front 3 m (10 ft) of each lift for the installed
brushlayers to optimize the growing conditions. This was a modification from the normal
geotechnical specification to accommodate the soil bioengineering.
The VRSS slope was constructed in the winter/spring of 1995/96 at a cost of US $270 per
square face meter. The slope is currently (March 2000) in its fourth growing season. The
vegetated slope face performed as intended, initially protecting the surface from erosion
while providing a pleasing aesthetic look (see figure 62). Natural invasion from the
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surrounding plant community is occurring, causing the system to blend into the naturally
wooded scenic setting of the area and meeting the long-term aesthetic and ecological goals.
Lessons Learned: In the future on similar projects, the use of more rooted plants rather than
all live cut branches is recommended to provide greater diversity and to improve construction
efficiency. Reducing the height of the wrapped earth terraces would allow for the vegetation
to be more evenly distributed with less densities, and possibly using a preformed wire form
in the front. These items would all reduce construction costs by improving efficiency.

Figure 62.

M as s achuset t s
Turnpike during
construction, immediately after construction and after the second growing
season.

-220-

6.8

STANDARD RSS DESIGNS

RSS structures are customarily designed on a project-specific basis. Most agencies use a line-andgrade contracting approach, thus the contractor selected RSS vendor provides the detailed design
after contract bid and award. This approach works well. However, standard designs can be
developed and implemented by an agency for RSS structures.
Use of standard designs for RSS structures offers the following advantages over a line-and-grade
approach:
!
Agency is more responsible for design details and integrating slope design with other
components.
!
Pre evaluation and approval of materials and material combinations, as opposed to
evaluating contractor submittal post bid.
!
Economy of agency design versus vendor design/stamping of small reinforced slopes.
!
Agency makes design decisions versus vendors making design decisions.
!
More equitable bid environment as agency is responsible for design details, and
vendors are not making varying assumptions.
!
Filters out substandard work, systems and designs with associated approved product
lists.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MN/DOT) recently developed and implemented (inhouse) standardized RSS designs.(34) The use of these standard designs are limited by geometric,
subsurface and economic constraints. Structures outside of these constraints should be designed on
a project-specific basis. The general approach used in developing these standards could be followed
by other agencies to develop their own, agency-specific standard designs.
Standardized designs require generic designs and generic materials. Generic designs require
definition of slope geometry and surcharge loads, soil reinforcement strength, structure height limit,
and slope facing treatment. As an example, the MN/DOT standard designs address two geometric
and surcharge loadings, two reinforced soil fills, and can be used for slopes up to 8 m (26.2 feet) in
height. Three reinforcement long-term strengths, Tal, of 10, 15 and 20 kN/m (700, 1050 and 1400
plf) are used in the standard designs, though a structure must use the same reinforcement throughout
its height and length.
Generic material properties used definitions of shear strength and unit weight of the reinforced fill,
retained backfill and foundation soils applicable to the agencys specifications and regional geology.
Definition of generic material properties requires the development of approved product lists for soil
reinforcements and face erosion control materials. A standard face treatment is provided, however,
it is footnoted with Develop site specific recommendations for highly shaded areas, highly visible
urban applications, or in sensitive areas.
An example design cross section and reinforcement layout table from the MN/DOT standard designs
is presented in Figure 63. Note that the MN/DOT standard designs are not directly applicable to, nor
should they be used by, other agencies.

-221-

Figure 63.

Example of standard RSS design.(after 34)


-222-

CHAPTER 7
DESIGN OF REINFORCED SOIL SLOPES
7.1

INTRODUCTION

This chapter provides step-by-step procedures for the design of reinforced soil slopes. Design and
analysis of existing design using the computer program RSS is also presented. The design approach
principally assumes that the slope is to be constructed on a stable foundation. Recommendations for
deep seated failure analysis are included. The user is referred to standard soil mechanics texts and
FHWA Geosynthetics Design and Construction Guidelines (1995) in cases where the stability of the
foundation is at issue.
As indicated in chapter 6, there are several approaches to the design of reinforced steepened slopes.
The method presented in this chapter uses the classical rotational, limit equilibrium slope stability
method as was shown in figure 54. As for the unreinforced case, a circular arc failure surface (not
location) is assumed for the reinforced slope. This geometry provides a simple means of directly
increasing the resistance to failure from the inclusion of reinforcement, is directly adaptable to most
available conventional slope stability computer programs, and agrees well with experimental results.
The reinforcement is represented by a concentrated force within the soil mass that intersects the
potential failure surface. By adding the failure resistance provided by this force to the resistance
already provided by the soil, a factor of safety equal to the rotational stability safety factor is
inherently applied to the reinforcement. The tensile capacity of a reinforcement layer is taken as the
minimum of its allowable pullout resistance behind the potential failure surface or its long-term
allowable design strength. The slope stability factor of safety is taken from the critical surface
requiring the maximum amount of reinforcement. Final design is performed by distributing the
reinforcement over the height of the slope and evaluating the external stability of the reinforced
section.
The suitability of this design approach has been verified through extensive experimental evaluation
by the FHWA and found to be somewhat conservative. A chart solution developed for simplistic
structures is provided as a check for the results. The method for evaluating a given reinforced soil
profile is also presented. The following flow chart shows the steps required for design of reinforced
soil slopes.

-223-

Establish the geometric, loading, and performance requirements for design

Determine engineering properties of the in situ soils

Determine properties of available fill

Evaluate design parameters for the reinforcement

allowable reinforcement strength

durability criteria

soil-reinforcement interaction

Check unreinforced stability of the slope

Design reinforcement to provide stable slope

strength

spacing

length

Extensible

Inextensible

Check external stability

Sliding

Deep Seated
Global

Local Bearing
Capacity

Settlement

Evaluate requirements for subsurface and surface water control

Develop specifications and contract documents

-224-

Seismic

7.2

REINFORCED SLOPE DESIGN GUIDELINES

The design steps outlined in the flow chart are as follows:


Step 1.
a.

Establish the geometric, loading, and performance requirements for design.


Geometric and loading requirements (see figure 64).
!

Slope height, H.

Slope angle, .

External (surcharge) loads:


-

Traffic Barrier
-

b.

See article 2.7 of 1992 AASHTO Standard Specifications for Highway


Bridges and AASHTO 1989 Roadside Design Guide.

Performance requirements.
!

External stability and settlement.


-

Step 2.

Surcharge load, q
Temporary live load, q
Design seismic acceleration, Am (See Division 1A, AASHTO Standard
Specifications for Highway Bridges).

Sliding: F.S. $ 1.3.


Deep seated (overall stability): F.S. $ 1.3.
Local bearing failure (lateral squeeze) : F.S. $ 1.3.
Dynamic loading: F.S. $ 1.1.
Settlement-post construction magnitude and time rate based on project
requirements.

Compound failure: F.S. $ 1.3.

Internal slope stability: F.S. $ 1.3.


Determine the engineering properties of the in situ soils. (see recommendations
in chapter 3, section 3.4.)

The foundation and retained soil (i.e., soil beneath and behind reinforced zone) profiles.

Strength parameters cu and u, or c and for each soil layer.


-225-

Figure 64.

Requirements for design of reinforced soil slopes.

-226-

Unit weights wet and dry.

Consolidation parameters (Cc, Cr, cv and p).

Location of the ground water table dw, and piezometric surfaces.

For failure repair, identify location of previous failure surface and cause of failure.

Step 3.

Determine the properties of reinforced fill and, if different, the retained fill. (see
recommendations in chapter 3, section 3.4.)

Gradation and plasticity index.

Compaction characteristics based on 95% AASHTO T-99, d and 2% of optimum moisture,


wopt.

Compacted lift thickness.

Shear strength parameters, cu, u or c, and .

Chemical composition of soil (pH).

Step 4.
!

Evaluate design parameters for the reinforcement. (see recommendations in


chapter 3, section 3.4.)
Allowable geosynthetic strength, Tal = ultimate strength (TULT) reduction factor (RF) for
creep, installation damage and durability:
For granular backfill meeting the recommended gradation in chapter 3, and electrochemical
properties in chapter 3, RF = 7, may be conservatively used for preliminary design and
routine, noncritical structures where the minimum test requirements outlined in table 11 are
satisfied.
Remember, there is a significant cost advantage in obtaining lower RF from test data
supplied by the manufacture and/or from agency evaluation!

Pullout Resistance: (See recommendations in chapter 3 and appendix A.)


-

F.S. = 1.5 for granular soils.

Use F.S. = 2 for cohesive soils.

Minimum anchorage length, Le, = 1 m (3 ft).

-227-

Step 5.

Check unreinforced stability.


see discussion in Chapter 6.

a.

Evaluate unreinforced stability to determine: if reinforcement is required; critical nature of


the design (i.e., unreinforced F.S. # or $ 1); potential deep-seated failure problems; and the
extent of the reinforced zone.
!

Perform a stability analysis using conventional stability methods (see FHWA Soils
and Foundations Workshop Reference Manual, 2000) to determine safety factors and
driving moments for potential failure surfaces.

Use both circular-arc and sliding-wedge methods, and consider failure through the
toe, through the face (at several elevations), and deep-seated below the toe.

(A number of stability analysis computer programs are available for rapid evaluation, e.g.,
the STABL family of programs developed at Purdue University including the current version,
STABL4M, FHWAs ReSSA program, and the program XSTABL developed at the
University of Idaho. In all cases, a few calculations should be made by hand to be sure the
computer program is giving reasonable results.)
b.

Determine the size of the critical zone to be reinforced.


!

Examine the full range of potential failure surfaces found to have:


Unreinforced safety factor

FSU # Required safety factor FSR

Plot all of these surfaces on the cross-section of the slope.

The surfaces that just meet the required safety factor roughly envelope the limits of
the critical zone to be reinforced as shown in figure 65.

Figure 65.

Critical zone defined by rotational and sliding surface that meet the required
safety factor.
-228-

c.

Critical failure surfaces extending below the toe of the slope are indications of deep
foundation and edge bearing capacity problems that must be addressed prior to completing
the design. For such cases, a more extensive foundation analysis is warranted, and
foundation improvement measures should be considered as reviewed in chapter 6.

Step 6.

a.

Design reinforcement to provide a stable slope. (see figure 66, and discussion in
chapter 6.)
Calculate the total reinforcement tension per unit width of slope TS required to obtain the
required factor of safety FSR for each potential failure surface inside the critical zone in step
5 that extends through or below the toe of the slope using the following equation:
T S  (FSR  FSU)

MD
(57)

where:
TS

the sum of the required tensile force per unit width of reinforcement
(considering rupture and pullout) in all reinforcement layers intersecting
the failure surface.

MD

= driving moment about the center of the failure circle.

= the moment arm of TS about the center of failure circle.


= radius of circle R for continuous, sheet type extensible reinforcement
(i.e., assumed to act tangentially to the circle).
= radius of circle R for continuous, sheet type inextensible reinforcement
(e.g., wire mesh reinforcement) to account for normal stress increase on
adjacent soil.
= vertical distance, Y, to the centroid of TS for discrete element, strip type
reinforcement. Assume H/3 above slope base for preliminary
calculations (i.e. assumed to act in a horizontal plane intersecting the
failure surface at H/3 above the slope base).

FSU

= unreinforced slope safety factor.

FSR

= target minimum slope factor of safety which is applied to both the soil
and reinforcement.

TS-MAX the largest TS calculated and establishes the total design tension.

Note: the minimum safety factor usually does not control the location of TS-MAX;
the most critical surface is the surface requiring the largest magnitude of
reinforcement.
-229-

Figure 66.

Rotational shear approach to determine required strength of reinforcement.

-230-

b.

c.

Determine the total design tension per unit width of slope, TS-MAX, using the charts in figure
67 and compare with TS-MAX from step 6a. If significantly different, check the validity of the
charts based on the limiting assumptions listed in the figure and recheck calculations in steps
5 and equation 50.
!

Figure 67 is provided for a quick check of computer-generated results. The figure


presents a simplified method based on a two-part wedge type failure surface and is
limited by the assumptions noted on the figure.

Note that figure 67 is not intended to be a single design tool. Other design charts
available from the literature could also be used.(12,13,14,15) As indicated in chapter 6,
several computer programs are also available for analyzing a slope with given
reinforcement and can be used as a check. Judgment in selection of other appropriate
design methods (i.e., most conservative or experience) is required.

Determine the distribution of reinforcement:


!

For low slopes (H # 6m) assume a uniform reinforcement distribution and use TS-MAX
to determine spacing or the required tension Tmax requirements for each reinforcement
layer.

For high slopes (H > 6 m), divide the slope into two (top and bottom) or three (top,
middle, and bottom) reinforcement zones of equal height and use a factored TS-MAX
in each zone for spacing or design tension requirements (see figure 68). The total
required tension in each zone is found from:
For 2 zones:
TBottom

= 3/4 TS-MAX

(58)

TTop

= 1/4 TS-MAX

(59)

TBottom

= TS-MAX

(60)

TMiddle

= 1/3 TS-MAX

(61)

TTop

= 1/6 TS-MAX

(62)

For 3 zones:

The force is assumed to be uniformly distributed over the entire zone.

-231-

CHART PROCEDURE:
1)

Determine force coefficient K from figure above, where r = friction angle of reinforced fill:

f  tan 1 (

2)

tan r
FSR

Determine:
TS-MAX = 0.5 K r (H)2

where:

3)

H' = H + q/r
q = a uniform load

Determine the required reinforcement length at the top LT and bottom LB of the slope from the figure above.

LIMITING ASSUMPTIONS
!
Extensible reinforcement.
!
Slopes constructed with uniform, cohesionless soil, c = 0).
!
No pore pressures within slope.
!
Competent, level foundation soils.
!
No seismic forces.
!
Uniform surcharge not greater than 0.2 r H.
!
Relatively high soil/reinforcement interface friction angle, sg = 0.9 r (may not be appropriate for some
geotextiles).

Figure 67.

Chart solution for determining the reinforcement strength requirements (after


Schmertmann, et. al., 1987).
NOTE: Charts The Tensar Corporation
-232-

Figure 68.

Reinforcement spacing considerations for high slopes.

-233-

d.

Determine reinforcement vertical spacing Sv or the maximum design tension Tmax


requirements for each reinforcement layer.
!

For each zone, calculate Tmax for each reinforcing layer in that zone based on an
assumed Sv or, if the allowable reinforcement strength is known, calculate the
minimum vertical spacing and number of reinforcing layers N required for each zone
based on:
Tmax 

Tzone Sv
Hzone

Tzone
N

T a Rc

(63)

where:

Rc

= coverage ratio of the reinforcement which equals the width of the


reinforcement b divided by the horizontal spacing Sh.

Sv

= vertical spacing of reinforcement in meters; multiples of


compacted layer thickness for ease of construction.

Tzone

= maximum reinforcement tension required for each zone.


= TS-MAX for low slopes (H< 6m).

Ta

= Tal.

Hzone

= height of zone.
= Ttop, Tmiddle, and TBottom for high slopes (H > 6m).

= number of reinforcement layers.

Use short (1.2 to 2 m) lengths of intermediate reinforcement layers to maintain a


maximum vertical spacing of 400 mm (16 inches) or less for face stability and
compaction quality (see figure 68b).
-

For slopes flatter than 1H:1V, closer spaced reinforcements (i.e., every lift or
every other lift, but no greater than 400 mm) preclude having to wrap the face
in well graded soils (e.g., sandy gravel and silty and clayey sands). Wrapped
faces are required for steeper slopes and uniformly graded soils to prevent
face sloughing. Alternative vertical spacings could be used to prevent face
sloughing, but in these cases a face stability analysis should be performed
either using the method presented in this chapter or by evaluating the face as
an infinite slope using: (19)
F.S. 

c  H  (g  w) Hz cos2 tan   Fg (cos sin  sin2 tan )


g Hz cos sin

-234-

(64)

where:

g
w
z

=
=
=
=
=

effective cohesion
effective friction angle
saturated unit weight of soil
unit weight of water
vertical depth to failure plane defined by the depth of
saturation
= vertical slope height
= slope angle
= summation of geosynthetic resisting force

Fg
-

Intermediate reinforcement should be placed in continuous layers and needs


not be as strong as the primary reinforcement, but it must be strong enough
to survive construction (e.g. minimum survivability requirements for
geotextiles in road stabilization applications in AASHTO M-288) and
provide localized tensile reinforcement to the surficial soils.

If the interface friction angle of the intermediate reinforcement sr is less than


that of the primary reinforcement r, then sr should be used in the analysis for
the portion of the failure surface intersecting the reinforced soil zone.

e.

To ensure that the rule-of-thumb reinforcement force distribution is adequate for critical or
complex structures, recalculate TS using equation 57 to determine potential failure above
each layer of primary reinforcement.

f.

Determine the reinforcement lengths required:


!

The embedment length Le of each reinforcement layer beyond the most critical
sliding surface (i.e., circle found for TS-MAX) must be sufficient to provide adequate
pullout resistance based on:
Le 

Tmax FS
F @ @


v

(65)

@ 2 @ Rc @ C

where F*, , Rc, C and v are defined in chapter 3, section 3.3.


!

Minimum value of Le is 1m. For cohesive soils, check Le for both short- and longterm pullout conditions, when using the semi empirical equations in chapter 3 to
obtain F*.
For long-term design, use r with cr = 0.
For short-term evaluation, conservatively use r with cr = 0 from consolidated
undrained triaxial or direct shear tests or run pullout tests.

-235-

Figure 69.

Developing reinforcement lengths.

Plot the reinforcement lengths as obtained from the pullout evaluation on a slope
cross section containing the rough limits of the critical zone determined in step 5 (see
figure 69).
-

The length required for sliding stability at the base will generally control the
length of the lower reinforcement levels.

Lower layer lengths must extend at least to the limits of the critical zone as
shown in figure 69. Longer reinforcements may be required to resolve deep
seated failure problems (see step 7).

Upper levels of reinforcement may not be required to extend to the limits of


the critical zone provided sufficient reinforcement exists in the lower levels
to provide the FSR for all circles within the critical zone as shown in figure
69.

Check that the sum of the reinforcement forces passing through each failure surface
is greater than Ts required for that surface.
-

Only count reinforcement that extends 1m beyond the surface to account for
pullout resistance.

-236-

g.

Simplify the layout by lengthening some reinforcement layers to create two or three
sections of equal reinforcement length for ease of construction and inspection.

Reinforcement layers do not generally need to extend to the limits of the critical
zone, except for the lowest levels of each reinforcement section.

Check the length obtained using chart b in figure 67. Note: Le is already included
in the total length, Lt and LB from chart B.

Check design lengths of complex designs.


!

When checking a design that has zones of different reinforcement length, lower zones
may be over reinforced to provide reduced lengths of upper reinforcement levels.

In evaluating the length requirements for such cases, the pullout stability for the
reinforcement must be carefully checked in each zone for the critical surfaces exiting
at the base of each length zone.

Step 7.
!

If the available reinforcement force is not sufficient, increase the length of


reinforcement not passing through the surface or increase the strength of
lower-level reinforcement.

Check external stability. (see discussion in chapter 6.)


Sliding resistance (figure 70)
-

Evaluate the width of the reinforced soil mass at any level to resist sliding along the
reinforcement. A wedge type failure surface defined by the limits of the
reinforcement (the length of the reinforcement at the depth of evaluation defined in
step 5). The analysis can best be performed using a computerized method which
takes into account all soil strata and interface friction values. The back of the wedge
should be angled at 45 + /2.or parallel to the back of the reinforced zone, which ever
is flatter (i.e., the wedge should not pass through layers of reinforcement to avoid an
overly conservative analysis). A simple analysis using a sliding block method can
be performed as a check. In this method, an active wedge is assumed at the back of
the reinforced soil mass with the back of the wedge extending up at an angle of 45
+ /2. Using this assumption, the driving force is equal to the active earth pressure
and the resisting force is the frictional resistance provided by the weakest layer, either
the reinforced soil, the foundation soil or the soil-reinforcement interface. The
following relationships are then used:
Resisting Force = F.S. x Sliding Force
(W  Pa sin b) tan min  FS Pa cos b
@

-237-

(66)

with: W  1/2 L 2 r tan r

for L < H

(67)

W  [ LH  H 2/(2tan) ]r for L > H

(68)

Pa  1/2 b H 2 K a

(69)

where:
L

length of bottom reinforcing layer in each level where there is


a reinforcement length change.
H
= height of slope.
FS
= factor of safety criterion for sliding (>1.3).
PA
= active earth pressure.
min
= minimum angle of shearing friction either between reinforced
soil and reinforcement or the friction angle of the foundation
soil.

= slope angle.
r & b = unit weight of the reinforced and retained backfill respectively.
b
= friction angle of retained fill.
(note: if drains/filters are placed on the backslope, then b equals the interface
friction angle between the geosynthetic and retained fill.)

Figure 70.

Sliding stability analysis.

-238-

Deep seated global stability (figure 71a).


-

Evaluate potential deep-seated failure surfaces behind the reinforced soil mass to
provide:
F.S. = MD/MR $ 1.3

(70)

The analysis performed in step 5 should provide this information. However, as a


check, classical rotational slope stability methods such as simplified Bishop,
Morgenstern and Price, Spencer, or others may be used (see FHWA Soils and
Foundations Workshop Reference Manual, 2000). Appropriate computer programs
also may be used.
!

Local bearing failure at the toe (lateral squeeze) (figure 71b).


-

If a weak soil layer exists beneath the embankment to a limited depth DS which is
less than the width of the slope b', the factor of safety against failure by squeezing
may be calculated from:(16)
2 cu
4.14 cu
FSsqueezing 

$ 1.3
(71)
Ds tan
H
where:
= angle of slope.
= unit weight of soil in slope.
Ds = depth of soft soil beneath slope base of the embankment.
H = height of slope.
cu = undrained shear strength of soft soil beneath slope.

Caution is advised and rigorous analysis (e.g, numerical modeling) should be performed
when FS < 2. This approach is somewhat conservative as it does not provide any influence
from the reinforcement. When the depth of the soft layer, DS, is greater than the base width
of the slope, b', general slope stability will govern the design.
!

Foundation settlement.
-

Determine the magnitude and rate of total and differential foundation settlements
using classical geotechnical engineering procedures (see FHWA Soils and
Foundations Workshop Reference Manual, 2000).(20)

-239-

Figure 71.

Failure through the foundation.

-240-

Step 8.
!

Seismic stability.
Dynamic stability (figure 72).
Perform a pseudo-static type analysis using a seismic ground coefficient A, obtained
from local building code and a design seismic acceleration Am equal to Am = A/2.
Reinforced soil slopes are clearly yielding type structures, more so than walls. As
such, Am can be taken as A/2 as allowed by AASHTO Standard Specifications for
Highway Bridges (Division 1A-Seismic Design, 6.4.3 Abutments.)
F.S. dynamic $ 1.1
In the pseudo-static method, seismic stability is determined by adding a horizontal
and/or vertical force at the centroid of each slice to the moment equilibrium equation
(see figure 72). The additional force is equal to the seismic coefficient times the total
weight of the sliding mass. It is assumed that this force has no influence on the
normal force and resisting moment, so that only the driving moment is affected. The
liquefaction potential of the foundation soil should also be evaluated.

Figure 72.

Seismic stability analysis.

-241-

Figure 73.

Subsurface drainage considerations.

-242-

Step 9.
!

Evaluate requirements for subsurface and surface water runoff control.


Subsurface water control.
-

Design of subsurface water drainage features should address flow rate, filtration,
placement, and outlet details.

Drains are typically placed at the rear of the reinforced mass as shown in figure 73.
Geocomposite drainage systems or conventional granular blanket and trench drains
could be used. Granular drainage systems are not addressed in this document, as it
is assumed that criteria for these systems already exists within state agencies.

Lateral spacing of outlets is dictated by site geometry, estimated flow, and existing
agency standards. Outlet design should address long-term performance and
maintenance requirements.

Geosynthetic drainage composites can be used in subsurface water drainage design.


Drainage composites should be designed with consideration of:
!

Geotextile filtration/clogging.

Long-term compressive strength of polymeric core.

Reduction of flow capacity due to intrusion of geotextile into the core.

Long-term inflow/outflow capacity.

Procedures for checking geotextile permeability and filtration/clogging criteria were


presented in FHWA Geosynthetic Design and Construction Guidelines (1995). Longterm compressive stress and eccentric loadings on the core of a geocomposite should
be considered during design and selection. Though not yet addressed in standardized
test methods or standards of practice, the following criteria are suggested by the
authors for addressing core compression. The design pressure on a geocomposite
core should be limited to either:
!

the maximum pressure sustained on the core in a test of 10,000 hour


minimum duration.

the crushing pressure of a core, as defined with a quick loading test, divided
by a factor of safety of 5.

Note that crushing pressure can only be defined for some core types. For cases where
a crushing pressure cannot be defined, suitability should be based on the maximum
load resulting in a residual thickness of the core adequate to provide the required
flow after 10,000 hours, or the maximum load resulting in a residual thickness of the

-243-

core adequate to provide the required flow as defined with the quick loading test
divided by a factor of safety of 5.
Intrusion of the geotextiles into the core and long-term outflow capacity should be
measured with a sustained transmissivity test. The ASTM D-4716 test procedure
Constant Head Hydraulic Transmissivity of Geotextiles and Geotextile Related
Products, should be followed. The test procedure should be modified for sustained
testing and for use of sand sub-stratum and super-stratum in lieu of closed cell foam
rubber. Load should be maintained for 100 hours or until equilibrium is reached,
whichever is greater.
-

Slope stability analyses should account for interface shear strength along a
geocomposite drain. The geocomposite/soil interface will most likely have a friction
value that is lower than that of the soil. Thus, a potential failure surface may be
induced along the interface.

Geotextile reinforcements (primary and intermediate layers) must be more permeable


than the reinforced fill material to prevent a hydraulic build up above the geotextile
layers during precipitation.
Special emphasis on the design and construction of subsurface drainage features
is recommended for structures where drainage is critical for maintaining slope
stability. Redundancy in the drainage system is also recommended for these
cases.

Surface water runoff.


-

Surface water runoff should be collected above the reinforced slope and channeled
or piped below the base of the slope. Standard Agency drainage details should be
utilized.

Wrapped faces and/or intermediate layers of secondary reinforcement may be


required at the face of reinforced slopes to prevent local sloughing. Guidance is
provided in Chapter 6 and table 13. Intermediate layers of reinforcement help
achieve compaction at the face, thus increasing soil shear strength and erosion
resistance. These layers also act as reinforcement against shallow or sloughing types
of slope failures. Intermediate reinforcement is typically placed on each or every
other soil lift, except at lifts where primary structural reinforcement is placed.
Intermediate reinforcement also is placed horizontally, adjacent to primary
reinforcement, and at the same elevation as the primary reinforcement when primary
reinforcement is placed at less than 100 percent coverage in plan view. The
intermediate reinforcement should extend 1.2 to 2 m (4 to 6.6 ft) back into the fill
from the face.

Select a long-term facing system to prevent or minimize erosion due to rainfall and
runoff on the face.
-244-

Calculated flow-induced tractive shear stress on the face of the reinforced slope by:
= d " W " s

(72)

where:

d
w
s

=
=
=
=

tractive shear stress, kPa.


depth of water flow, m.
unit weight of water, kN/m3.
the vertical to horizontal angle of slope face, m/m.

For < 100 Pa, consider vegetation with temporary or permanent erosion control
mat
For > 100 Pa, consider vegetation with permanent erosion control mat or other
armor type systems (e.g., riprap, gunite, prefab modular units, fabricformed concrete, etc.)
-

Select vegetation based on local horticultural and agronomic considerations and


maintenance.

Select a synthetic (permanent) erosion control mat that is stabilized against ultraviolet light and is inert to naturally occurring soil-born chemicals and bacteria.
Erosion control mats and blankets vary widely in type, cost, and, more importantly,
applicability to project conditions. Slope protection should not be left to the
construction contractor or vendor's discretion. Guideline material specifications
for synthetic permanent erosion control mats are provided in chapter 8.

7.3

COMPUTER ASSISTED DESIGN

An alternative to reinforcement design, step 6 in the previous section, is to develop a trial layout of
reinforcement and analyze the reinforced slope with a computer program such as the FHWA ReSSA
program. Layout includes number, length, design strength, and vertical distribution of the
geosynthetic reinforcement. The charts presented in figure 67 provide a method for generating a
preliminary layout. Note that these charts were developed with the specific assumptions noted on
the figure.
Analyze the reinforced soil slope with the trial geosynthetic reinforcement layouts. The most
economical reinforcement layout must provide the minimum required stability safety factors
for internal, external, and compound failure planes. A contour plot of lowest safety factor values
about the trial failure circle centroids is recommended to map and locate the minimum safety factor
values for the three modes of failure.
The method of analysis in section 7.2 assumed that the reinforcing force contributed to the resisting
moment and thus inherently applies the required factor of safety to the reinforcement (i.e., Ta = Tal).
-245-

However, some computer programs (and design charts) are based on the assumption that the
reinforcement force reduces the driving moment with the stability factor of safety FS calculated as:
FS 

MR
MD  TS D

With this assumption, the stability factory of safety is not applied to the reinforcement. For such
computations, the allowable strength of the reinforcement Tal must be divided by the required factor
of safety FSR, as was done for MSE walls (i.e., Ta = Tal/1.3).
External stability analysis as was previously shown in step 7 will include an evaluation of local
bearing capacity, foundation settlement, and dynamic stability.
7.4

DESIGN EXAMPLES

a.

Example 1. Reinforced Slope Design -Road Widening


A 1 km long, 5-m high, 2.5H:1V side slope road embankment in a suburban area is to be
widened by one lane. At least a 6-m width extension is required to allow for the additional
lane plus shoulder improvements. A 1H:1V reinforced soil slope up from the toe of the
existing slope will provide 7.5-m width to the alignment. The following provides the steps
necessary to perform a preliminary design for determining the quantity of reinforcement to
evaluate the feasibility and cost of this option. The reader is referred to the design steps in
section 7.2 to more clearly follow the meaning of the design sequence.

Step 1.
a.

b.

Slope description.
Geometric and load requirements

H=5m

= 45o

q = 10 kPa (for dead weight of pavement section) + 2% road grade

Performance requirements

External Stability:
Sliding Stability: FSmin = 1.3
Overall slope stability and deep seated: FSmin = 1.3
Dynamic loading: no requirement
Settlement: analysis required

Compound Failure: FSmin = 1.3


-246-


Step 2.

Internal Stability: FSmin = 1.3


Engineering properties of foundation soils.

Review of soil borings from the original embankment construction indicates foundation soils
consisting of stiff to very stiff, low-plasticity, silty clay with interbedded seams of sand and
gravel. The soils tend to increase in density and strength with depth.

d = 19 kN/m3, opt = 15%, cu = 100 kPa,

At the time of the borings, dw = 2 m below the original ground surface.

Step 3.

= 28o, and c= 0

Properties of reinforced and embankment fill.


The existing embankment fill is a clayey sand and gravel. For preliminary evaluation, the
properties of the embankment fill are assumed for the reinforced section as follows:

Sieve Size
Percent passing
100 mm
100
20 mm
99
4.75 mm
63
0.425 mm
45
0.075 mm
25
PI (of fines) = 10
Gravel is durable
pH = 7.5

r = 21 kN/m3, opt = 15

' = 33o, c' = 0

Soil is relatively inert, based on neutral pH tests for backfill and geology of area.

Step 4.

Design parameters for reinforcement


For preliminary analysis use default values.
Ta = Tal/FS, since FS = 1 for this analytical approach,
Ta = Tal = TULT/RF

Allowable Strength:

Pullout Factor of Safety: FSPO = 1.5

-247-

Step 5.

Check unreinforced stability

Using STABL4M, a search was made to find the minimum unreinforced safety factor and to define
the critical zone. Both rotational and wedge stability evaluations were performed with figure 74a
showing the rotational search. The minimum unreinforced safety factor was 0.68 with the critical
zone defined by the target factor of safety FSR as shown in figure 74b. Remember that the critical
zone from the unreinforced analysis roughly defines the zone needing reinforcement.
Step 6.

Calculate TS for the FSR.

From the computer runs, obtain FSU, MD, and R for each failure surface within the critical zone and
calculate TS from equation 57 as follows. (Note: with minor code modification, this could easily be
done as part of the computer analysis.)
a.

Calculate the total reinforcement tension TS, required:


MD

(73)
R
Evaluating all of the surfaces in the critical zone indicates maximum total tension
TS-MAX = 49.7 kN/m for FSU = 0.89 as shown in figure 74c.
TS  (1.3  FSU)

b.

Checking TS-MAX by using the design charts in figure 67:


1

f  tan (

tan r
FSR

)  tan (

tan 33o
)  26.5o
1.3

(74)

From figure 67a, K . 0.14


and,
H = H + q/r + 0.1 m (for 2% road grade)
= 5 m + (10 kN/m2 21 kN/m3) + 0.1 m = 5.6 m
then,
TSMAX  0.5 K r H /

(75)

 0.5 (0.14) (21 kN/m ) (5.6 m)


 46.1 kN/m
3

The evaluation using figure 67 appears to be in reasonably good agreement with the
computer analysis for this simple problem.

-248-

c.

Determine the distribution of reinforcement.


Since H < 6 m, use a uniform spacing. Due to the cohesive nature of the backfill, maximum
compaction lifts of 200 mm are recommended.

d.

As was discussed in the design section, to avoid wrapping the face and surficial stability
issues, use Sv = 400 mm reinforcement spacing; therefore, N = 5 m/0.4 m = 12.5, use 12
layers with the bottom layer placed after the first lift of embankment fill.

Tmax 

TSMAX
N

49.7 kN/m
 4.14 kN/m
12

(76)

(Note: Other reinforcement options such as using short secondary reinforcements at every
lift with spacing and strength increased for primary reinforcements, may be considered and
evaluated in order to select the most cost-effective final design.)
e.

Since this is a simple structure, rechecking Ts above each layer or reinforcement is not
performed.

f.

For preliminary analysis of the required reinforcement lengths, the critical zone found in the
computer analysis (figure 74b) could be used to define the limits of the reinforcement. This
is especially true for this problem since the sliding failure surface with FS $ 1.3 encompasses
the rotational failure surface with FS $ 1.3.
From direct measurement at the bottom and top of the sliding surface in figure 74b, the
required lengths of reinforcement are:
Lbottom = 5.3 m
Ltop = 2.9 m
Check length of embedment beyond the critical surface Le and factor of safety against
pullout.
Since the most critical location for pullout is the reinforcement near the top of the slope
(depth Z = 0.2 m), subtract the distance from the critical surface to the face of the slope in
figure 74c from Ltop. This gives Le at top = 1.3 m.
Assuming the most conservative assumption for pullout factors F* and from chapter 3,
section 3.3 gives F* = 0.67 tan and = 0.6 Therefore,

FS 

L e F v C
Tmax

1.3 (0.67 tan 33o) (0.6) (0.2 m x 21 kN/m 3  10 kN/m 2) (2)


4.14 kN/m

-249-

(77)

FSPO  2.3 > 1.5 required


Check the length requirement using figure 67b.
For LB, use min from foundation soil


f  tan (

tan 28o
)  22.2o
1.3

(78)

From figure 67: LB/H = 0.96


thus,
LB = 5.6 m (0.96) = 5.4 m
For LT, use min from reinforced fill


f  tan (

tan 33o
)  26.5o
1.3

(79)

From figure 67: LT/H = 0.52


thus,
LT = 5.6 m (0.52) = 2.9 m
The evaluation again, using figure 67, is in good agreement with the computer analysis.
g.

This is a simple structure and additional evaluation of design lengths is not required. For a
preliminary analysis, and a fairly simple problem, figure 67 or any number of proprietary
computer programs could be used for a rapid evaluation of TS-MAX and Tmax.
In summary, 12 layers of reinforcement are required with a design strength Ta and thus an
allowable material strength Tal of 4.14 kN/m and an average length of 4 m over the full
height of embankment.

-250-

Figure 74.

Design example 1.

-251-

Figure 74.

Design example 1 (continued).

-252-

b.

Example 2. Reinforced Slope Design -New Road Construction


An embankment will be constructed to elevate an existing roadway that currently exists at
the toe of a slope with a stable 1.6H: 1V configuration. The maximum height of the
proposed embankment will be 19 m and the desired slope of the elevated embankment is
0.84H:10V. A geogrid with an ultimate tensile strength of 100 kN/m (ASTM D4595 wide
width method) is desired for reinforcing the new slope. A uniform surcharge of 12.5 kN is
to be used for the traffic loading condition. Available information indicated that the natural
foundation soils have a drained friction angle of 34o and effective cohesion of 12.5 kPa. The
backfill to be used in the reinforced section will have a minimum friction angle of 34o.
The reinforced slope design must have a minimum factor of safety of 1.5 for slope stability.
The minimum design life of the new embankment is 75 years.
Determine the number of layers, vertical spacing, and total length required for the reinforced
section.

Step 1. Geometric and loading requirements for design.


a.

b.

Slope description:

Slope height, H = 19 m

Reinforced slope angle, = tan-1(1.0/0.84) = 50o

Existing slope angle, = tan-1(0.61/1.0) = 31.4o

Surcharge load, q = 12.5 kN/m2

Performance requirements:

External stability
- Sliding: FS $ 1.5
- Deep Seated (overall stability): FS $ 1.5
- Dynamic loading: no requirement
- Settlement: analysis required

Internal stability
Slope stability: FS $ 1.5

-253-

Step 2. Engineering properties of the natural soils in the slope.


For this project, the foundation and existing embankment soils have the following strength
parameters:
= 34o, c = 12.5 kPa
Depth of water table, dw = 1.5 m below base of embankment

Step 3. Properties of available fill.


The backfill material to be used in the reinforced section was reported to have the following
properties:
= 18.8 kN/m3, = 34o, c = 0
Step 4. Reinforcement performance requirement.
Allowable tensile force per unit width of reinforcement, Ta, with respect to service life and
durability requirements:
Ta = TULT/RF and RF = RFCR x RFID x RFD x FS

(80)

For the proposed geogrid to be used in the design of the project, the following factors are used:
FS = 1 (note: FS = 1.5 on reinforcement is included in stability equation).
RFD = durability factor of safety = 1.25.
RFID = construction damage factor of safety = 1.2.
RFCR = creep reduction factor = 3.0.
Reduction factors were determined by the owner based on evaluation of project conditions and
geogrid tests and field performance data submitted by the manufacturer. If this information is not
available, a global default value defined in chapter 3, could have been used.
Therefore:
Ta 
.

(100kN/m)
 22 kN/m
(1.25)(1.2)(3)(1)

Pullout Resistance: FS = 1.5 for granular soils with a 1 m minimum length in the
resisting zone.

Step 5. Check unreinforced stability .


The unreinforced slope stability was checked using the rotational slip surface method, as well as the
wedge shaped failure surface method, to determine the limits of the reinforced zone and the required
total reinforcement tension to obtain a factor of safety of 1.5.
-254-

The proposed new slope was first analyzed without reinforcement using a hand solution (e.g., the
FHWA Soils and Foundations Reference Manual, 2000) or computer programs such as XSTABL,
STABL4M, ReSSA or RSS. The computer program calculates factors of safety (FS) using the
Modified Bishop Method for circular failure surface. Failure is considered through the toe of the
slope and the crest of the new slope as shown in the design example figure 75a. Note that the
minimum factor of safety for the unreinforced slope is less than 1.0. The failure surfaces are forced
to exit beyond the crest until a factor of safety of 1.5 or more is obtained. Several failure surfaces
should be evaluated using the computer program.
Next, the Janbu Method for wedge shaped failure surfaces is used to check sliding of the reinforced
section for a factor of safety of 1.5, as shown on the design example figure 75a. Based on the wedge
shaped failure surface analysis, the limits of the critical zone to be reinforced are reduced to 14 m
at the top and 17 m at the bottom for the required factor of safety.

Step 6. Calculate TS for FSR = 1.5.


a.

The total reinforcement tension TS required to obtain a FSR = 1.5 is then evaluated for each
failure surface. The most critical surface is the surface requiring the maximum reinforced
tension TS-MAX. An evaluation of all the surfaces in the critical zone indicated TS-MAX = 1000
kN/m as determined using the equation 73:
T S  (FSR  FSU)

MD

 (1.5  FSU)

MD

D
R
The most critical circle is where the largest TS = TS-MAX. As shown on the design example
figure 75a, TS-MAX is obtained for FSU = 0.935.
For this surface, MD = 67,800 kN-m/m (as determined stability analysis).
D = R for geosynthetics = radius of critical circle
R = 38.3 m
TSMAX  (1.5  0.935)
b.

67,800 kNm/m
 1000kN/m
38.3 m

Check using chart design procedure:


For

= 50o ,and
f = tan-1 (tan r /FSR) = tan-1(tan 34o/1.5) = 24.2o

Force coefficient, K = 0.21 (from figure 67a)


and,
H = H + q/r = 19 m + (12.5 kN/m2)/(18.8 kN/m3) = 19.7 m
then,

-255-

Reinforcement alternatives:

Figure 75.

From computer program:

Simplified distribution:

TBottom = 1000 - 460 = 540 kN/m

TBottom = Ts-max = 500 kN/m

TMiddle = 460 - 150 = 310 kN/m

TBottom = 1/3 Ts-max = 330 kN/m

TTop = 150 kN/m

TBottom = 1/6 Ts-max = 170 kN/m

Design example 2: stability analysis.

-256-

TS-MAX = 0.5 Kr(H)2 = 0.5(0.21)(18.8 kN/m3)(19.7 m)2


= 766 kN/m
Values obtained from both procedures are comparable within 25 percent. Since the chart
procedure does not include the influence of water, use TS-MAX = 1000 kN/m.
c.

Determine the distribution of reinforcement


Based on the overall embankment height divide the slope into three reinforcement zones of
equal height as in equations 60 through 62.
Tbottom = TS-MAX =()(1000 kN/m) = 500 kN/m
Tmiddle = 1/3 TS-MAX =(1/3)(1000 kN/m) = 330 kN/m
Ttop = 1/6 TS-MAX =(1/6)(1000 kN/m) = 170 kN/m

d.

Determine reinforcement vertical spacing Sv .


N 

Minimum number of layers,

TSMAX
Tallowable

1000 kN/m
 45.5
22 kN/m

Distribute at bottom 1/3 of slope:


500 kN/m
 22.7 use 23 layers
22 kN/m

NB 
At middle 1/3 of slope:
NM 

330 kN/m
 15 layers
22 kN/m

NT 

170 kN/m
 7.7 use 8 layers
22 kN/m

At upper 1/3 of slope:

Total number of layers:

46 > 45.5 OK

Vertical spacing:
Total height of slope = 19 m

-257-

Height for each zone = 19/3 = 6.3 m


Required spacing:
At bottom 1/3 of slope:
Srequired 

6.3 m
 0.27 m use 250 mm spacing
23 layers

At middle 1/3 of slope:


Srequired 

6.3 m
 0.42 m use 400 mm spacing
15 layers

At top 1/3 of slope:


Srequired 

6.3 m
 0.79 m use 800 mm spacing
8 layers

Provide 2 m length of intermediate reinforcement layers in the upper 1/3 of the slope,
between primary layers (based on primary reinforcement spacing at a 400 mm vertical
spacing.
e.

The reinforcement tension required within the middle and upper 1/3 of the unreinforced slope
is then calculated using the slope stability program to check that reinforcement provided is
adequate as shown in the design example figure 75b.
Top 2/3 of slope: TS-MAX = 460 kN/m < N C Ta = 23 layers x 22 kN/m = 506 kN/m
Top 1/3 of slope: TS-MAX = 150 kN/m < N C Ta = 8 layers x 22 kN/m = 176 kN/m

f.

Determine the reinforcement length required beyond the critical surface for the entire slope
from figure 75a, used to determine Tmax from equation 77,

Le 

Tmax FS


F v C

(22kN/m) (1.5)
(0.8 tan 34E)(0.66)(18.8 kN/m @ Z) (2)
2

2.5 m
Z

At depth Z, from the top of the crest, Le is found and compared to the available length of
reinforcement that extends behind the TDESIGN failure surface, as determined by the sliding
wedge analysis:
Z = 0.6 m, Le = 4.2 m, available length, Le = 5.2 m OK
Z = 1.2 m, Le = 2.1 m, available length, Le = 4.9 m OK
Z = 1.8 m, Le = 1.4 m, available length, Le = 4.9 m OK
Z = 2.0 m, Le = 1.3 m, available length, Le = 4.9 m OK
-258-

Z = 2.8 m, Le = 0.9 m, available length, Le = > 5 m OK


Further checks of Z are unnecessary.
Checking the length using figure 67b for f = 24E
LT/H = 0.65 Y LT = 12.8 m
LB/H = 0.80 Y LB = 15.6 m
Results from both procedures check well against the wedge failure analysis in step 5a.
Realizing the chart solution does not account for the water table use top length LT = 14 m and
bottom length LB = 17 m as determined by the computer analyses in step 5a.
g.

The available reinforcement strength and length were checked using the slope stability
program for failure surfaces extending beyond the TS-MAX failure surface and found to be
greater than required.

Step 7. Check External Stability.


a.

Sliding Stability.
The external stability was checked using the computer program for wedge shaped failure
surfaces. The FS obtained for the failure surface outside the reinforced section, defined with
a 14 m length at the top and a 17 m length at the bottom, was 1.5.

b.

Deep Seated Global Stability.


The overall deep-seated failure analysis indicated that a factor of safety of 1.3 exists for
failure surfaces extending outside the reinforced section (as shown in the design example
figure 75b). This is due to the grade at the toe of the slope that slopes down into the lake.
The factor of safety for deep-seated failure does not meet requirements. Therefore, either the
reinforcement would have to be extended to a greater length, the toe of the new slope should
be regraded, or the slope would have to be constructed at a flatter angle.
For the option of extending the reinforcement length, local bearing must be checked. Local
bearing (lateral squeeze) failure does not appear to be a problem as the foundation soils are
granular and will increase in shear strength due to confinement. Also, the foundation soil
profile is consistent across the embankment such that global bearing and local bearing will
essentially result in the same factor of safety. For these conditions, the lower level
reinforcements could simply be extended back to an external stability surface that would
provide FS = 1.5 as shown in figure 76.

-259-

If the foundation soils were cohesive and limited to a depth of less than 2 times the base
width of the slope, then local stability should be evaluated. As an example, assume that the
foundation soils had an undrained shear strength of 100 kPa and extended to a depth of 10
m, at which point the granular soils were encountered.
Then, in accordance with equation 71,
FSsqueezing 

FSsqueezing 

2 cu
Ds tan

2 (50 kPa)
(18.8 kN/m 3)(10.0 m)(tan 50E)

4.14 cu
H

4.14 (50 kPa)


 1.03
19 m (18.8 kN/m)

Since FSsqueezing is lower than the required 1.3, extending the length of the reinforcement
would not be an option without improving the stability conditions. This could be
accomplished by either reducing the slope angle or by placing a surcharge at the toe, which
effectively reduces the slope angle.
c.

Foundation settlement.
Due to the granular nature of the foundation soils, long term settlement is not of concern.

Figure 76.

Design example 2: global stability.

-260-

c.

Example 3. Computer-Aided Solution

ReSSA Design Check for Example 1 Reinforced Slope Design - Road Widening
The computer program ReSSA(33) could be used to check the design results of hand calculation
example. ReSSA is a windows based interactive program specifically developed under sponsorship
of the FHWA for the design and analysis of reinforced soil slopes. It follows this manual and
portions of the manual are incorporated in the Help menu.
ReSSA has two modes of operation: Design and Analysis. In the Design mode, the program
computes the required layout (length and vertical spacing) corresponding to users prescribed safety
factors. In this mode, the program produces the ideal reinforcement values for strength or coverage
ratio so that the designer can maximize reinforcement utilization. In the Analysis mode, ReSSA
computes the factors of safety corresponding to users prescribed layout.
This section provides the steps and input necessary to
evaluate the design shown in the first hand calculation
example. [A design check with the predecessor FHWA
reinforced slope program, RSS, is attached in appendix E.]
The example problem will use the simple problem format
on the initial screen*. The steps are as follows:
<

Load the ReSSA Program.

<

After the welcome screen, open the file menu,


click on
and input the project information.

<

On the
screen select
under Mode of Operation,
under
under Reinforcing
Geometry,
Material, and then click on

__________________________
* Note that this output is from a pre-beta version of ReSSA, and therefore
may not fully match output of released version.

-261-

Move to the INPUT DATA MENU screen and choose the


and choose the units to be used (e.g., metric units
for this problem).

<

<

Back to the INPUT DATA MENU screen and choose the


input the PROJECT IDENTIFICATION.

and

Back to the INPUT DATA MENU screen and click on


and under the SLOPE GEOMETRY SIMPLE input height, slope angle and
surcharge load.

-262-

<

Back to the INPUT DATA MENU screen and click on


WATER PRESSURE input depth to the phreatic line.

<

Back to the INPUT DATA MENU screen and


and under the SOIL DATA
click on
input the soil shear strength parameters and unit
weights.

-263-

and under the

<

Next back to the INPUT DATA MENU screen and click on


Under GEOSYNTHETIC REINFORCEMENT ANALYSIS
SINGLE TYPE enter the geosynthetic ultimate strength, installation damage reduction
factor, durability reduction factor, creep reduction factor and coverage ratio.

<

U n d e r
G E O S Y N T H E T I C
REINFORCEMENT ANALYSIS SINGLE
TYPE click on FIXED SPACING BETWEEN
LAYERS and input spacing value and elevation
to bottom geosynthetic layer. Then click on
USER SPECIFIED LENGTH OF EACH
LAYER and the
screen opens. Enter the reinforcement lengths
for each layer.

-264-

<

Under GEOSYNTHETIC REINFORCEMENT ANALYSIS SINGLE TYPE click


on INTERACTION PARAMETERS and the
screen opens. Enter the interaction values for reinforcement reinforced fill and reinforcement - foundation soil, the relative orientation of reinforcement
force (ROR) (a value of 1.0 is recommended for geosynthetic reinforcement), and required
pullout factor of safety.

<

Next back to the MAIN MENU screen


and click on
The SEARCH DOMAIN
FOR ROTATIONAL ANALYSIS SIMPLE SLOPE screen opens, and for
this example the default values were used.
click
and return to the MAIN
MENU.

-265-

<

Click on
and then on
under DEFINE SEARCH DOMAIN
FOR ROTATIONAL ANALYSIS - SIMPLE SLOPE. The results of the rotational
analysis are shown in the following screen (tabulated results also may be viewed).

-266-

<

Next back to the MAIN MENU screen and


click on
The SEARCH
DOMAIN FOR TRANSLATIONAL
ANALYSIS - SIMPLE SLOPE screen opens,
and for this example the default values were
used. click
and return to the MAIN
MENU.

<

Click on
and then on
under DEFINE SEARCH DOMAIN
FOR TRANSLATIONAL ANALYSIS - SIMPLE SLOPE. The results of the rotational
analysis are shown in the following screen (tabulated results also may be viewed).

-267-

<

<

Safety factor values of 1.23 for rotational and 1.19 for translational failure modes were
computed. These are less than the safety factor values of 1.3 for rotational and 1.3 for
translational failure modes used in the preliminary design hand calculation. One reason for
the difference is that the reinforcement interaction values did not match those assumed for
the design charts of Figure 67.
Revising the reinforcement interaction values, to match the value assumed in Figure 67
design charts, as shown on the following screen, and rerunning the analyses produces
different results.

-268-

<

Click on
and then on
under DEFINE SEARCH DOMAIN
FOR TRANSLATIONAL ANALYSIS - SIMPLE SLOPE and under DEFINE SEARCH
DOMAIN FOR ROTATIONAL ANALYSIS - SIMPLE SLOPE. The results of the
rotational analysis are shown in the following screens.

<

Minimum safety factor values of 1.25 for rotational and 1.32 for translational failure modes
were computed with the revised interaction values. The translational failure value is
significantly different from the other computed value. Thus, highlighting the need to verify
assumptions when using design charts of Figure 67 and the importance of accurate definition
of interaction parameters.

-269-

d.

Example 4. Facing Stability Calculation

Economies can sometimes be achieved by using higher strength primary reinforcement at wider
spacing combined with short intermediate reinforcement layers to meet maximum spacing
requirements, provide compaction aids and face stability. The calculations for face stability
evaluation of slopes using intermediate reinforcement will be demonstrated for the slope in Example
1, with modified primary reinforcement. The guidelines for intermediate reinforcement presented
under Step 6 of section 7.2 Reinforced Slope Design Guidelines will be followed.
To evaluate cost alternatives in Example 1, modify primary reinforcement by doubling strength to
8.3 kN/m and doubling vertical spacing. Intermediate reinforcement will be placed at 800 mm
vertical spacing, centered between the primary reinforcement (at 800 mm spacing). The length of
intermediate reinforcement will be set at 1.2 m and minimum long term tensile strength, Tal, of 5.5
kN/m will be used to meet constructability requirements.
Surficial failure planes may extend to a depth of about 3 to 6% of the slope height. Therefore, the
stability safety factor will be checked for depths up to 6% of slope height, for dry conditions. Also,
checks will be performed at various depths assuming saturation to that depth, to see if project
conditions (e.g., local rainfall) need to be further evaluated.
4. Check stability safety factor for various depths to potential failure plane. Compute depth equal
to 6% of slope height.
(0.06) 5 m = 0.5 m
Check stability at 0.15 m, 0.3 m, and 0.6 m depths to potential failure plane. Use Equation 64
with the following parameters.
F.S. 

where c

z
H

Fg

=
=
=
=
=
=

c  H  (g  w) Hz cos2 tan   Fg (cos sin  sin2 tan )


g Hz cos sin
effective cohesion assume equal to zero, which conservatively neglects
vegetative reinforcement. See guidance in Gray and Sotir (25), for guidance of
estimating strength of vegetation, if desired to include in analysis.
effective friction angle 33E
unit weight of fill soil 21 kN/m3
vertical depth to failure plane 0.15 m, 0.3 m, and 0.6 m
vertical slope height 5 m
slope angle 45E
summation of geosynthetic resisting force varies by z, as strength at
shallow embedments will likely be controlled by pullout resistance, therefore,
compute by failure plane depth

-270-

Geosynthetic available reinforcement strength is based on pullout toward the front face of
the slope (i.e., the geosynthetic resistance to the outward movement of the wedge of soil
above and below the geosynthetic).
Primary reinforcement
Ta (= Tal) = 8.3 kN/m
Strength limited by pullout resistance near the face, with FSPO = 1.0, equals
T = F* v C Le
where F* and are as assumed for the geogrid in Example 1, and
v = the weight of the triangular wedge of soil over the
geosynthetic = z
Le = z / tan 45E = z
C = 2
T = (0.8 tan 33E) (0.66) [ (21 kN/m2) (z) ] (2) (z)
T = 7.2 z2 kN/m
Therefore,

@ 0.15 m,
@ 0.3 m,
@ 0.6 m,

T = 0.16 kN/m
T = 0.65 kN/m
T = 2.6 kN/m

Intermediate reinforcement
Ta (= Tal) = 5.5 kN/m
Strength limited by pullout resistance, with FSPO = 1.0, equals
T = F* v C Le
assuming F* and parameters equal to those of the primary reinforcement
again leads to,
@ 0.15 m,
@ 0.3 m,
@ 0.6 m,

T = 0.16 kN/m
T = 0.65 kN/m
T = 2.6 kN/m

The slope contains 6 layers of primary reinforcement and 6 layers of intermediate


reinforcement. Therefore,
@ 0.15 m Fg = 6 (0.16 kN/m) + 6 (0.16 kN/m) = 1.9 kN/m
@ 0.3 m Fg = 6 (0.65 kN/m) + 6 (0.65 kN/m) = 7.8 kN/m
@ 0.6 m Fg = 6 (2.6 kN/m) + 6 (2.6 kN/m) = 31.2 kN/m
-271-

With c = 0 and dry conditions, equation (64) reduces to

F.S. 

F.S. 

Hz cos2 tan   Fg (cos sin  sin2 tan )


Hz cos sin

(21 kN/m 3)(5 m)(cos2 45E)(tan 33E) z  Fg [(cos 45E)(sin 45E)(sin2 45E)(tan 33E)]
(21 kN/m 3)(5 m)(cos 45E)(sin 45E) z

F.S. 

34.1 z  Fg (0.82)
52.5 z

Therefore,
@ 0.15 m, FS = 0.85
@ 0.3 m, FS = 1.1
@ 0.6 m, FS = 1.5
Thus, assuming cohesion equal to zero, it is computed that the slope face is unstable
at shallow depths (0.15 m to 0.3 m). A small amount of cohesion may be provided
by the soil fill and/or vegetation. Assume a nominal amount of cohesion (e.g., 2
kPa), and recompute factors of safety.
cH = 2 kPa (5 m) = 10 kN/m
Then, the factor of safety is equal to
F.S. 

10  34.1 z  Fg (0.82)
52.5 z

and
@ 0.15 m, FS = 2.1
@ 0.3 m, FS = 1.7
@ 0.6 m, FS = 1.8
Thus, with only a small amount of cohesion the slope face would be stable.
5.

Check the safety factor for various depths to potential failure plane assuming saturation to
that depth, to see if reasonable for project conditions.
With parameters of g - w = 14 kN/m3 and cohesion of 2 kPa (implies cohesion is
derived from vegetation, and is retained under saturated conditions)
-272-

Then, the factor of safety is equal to


F.S. 

10  22.7 z  Fg (0.82)
52.5 z

and
@ 0.15 m, FS = 1.9
@ 0.3 m, FS = 1.5
@ 0.6 m, FS = 1.6
Again, the slope is stable provided vegetation is established on the slope face. A
geosynthetic erosion mat would also help maintain the face stability.

7.5

PROJECT COST ESTIMATES

Cost estimates for reinforced slope systems are generally per square meter of vertical face. Table
14 can be used to develop a cost estimate.
As an example, the following provides a cost estimate for design example 1 in chapter 7.
Considering the 12 layers of reinforcement at a length of 5 m, the reinforced section would require
a total reinforcement of 60 m2 per meter length of embankment or 12 m2 per vertical meter of height.
Adding 10 percent to 15 percent for overlaps and overages results in an anticipated reinforcement
quantity of 13.5 m2 per meter embankment height. Based on the cost information in appendix C,
reinforcement with an allowable strength Ta $ 4.14 kN/m would cost on the order of $1.00 to
$1.50/m2. Assuming $0.50 m2 for handling and placement, the in-place cost of reinforcement would
be approximately $25/m2 of vertical embankment face. Approximately 18.8 m3 of additional backfill
would be required for the reinforced section per meter of embankment length. Using a typical inplace cost for locally available fill with some hauling of $8/m3 (about $4 per 1000 kg), $30/m2 will
be added to the cost. In addition, overexcavation and backfill of existing embankment material will
be required to allow for placement of the reinforcement. Assuming $2/m3 for overexcavation and
replacement will add approximately $4/m2 of vertical face. The erosion protection for the face would
also add a cost of $5/m2 of vertical face plus seeding and mulching. Thus, the total estimated cost
for this option would be on the order of $64/m2 of vertical embankment face. Alternative facing
systems such as soil bioengineered treatment and/or the use of wire baskets for face would each add
approximately $20 to $30/m2 to the construction costs, but reduction in long-term maintenance will
most likely offset these costs.

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Table 14.

Item

Total Volume

Backfill (in place)

m3

Overexcavation

m3

Reinforcement (in
place)

m2

Estimated Project Costs.

Unit Cost

Extension

per Vertical
square meter

Facing system
Support
Vegetation

m2

Permanent
erosion control
mat

m2

Alternate facing
systems

m2

Groundwater control
system

m2

Guardrail
Total

m
-------

---------

Unit cost per vertical


square meter

Note Slope Dimensions:

Height H =
Length L =
Face Surface Area, A =
Reinforcement Area = Lreinforcement * Number of Layers

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CHAPTER 8
CONTRACTING METHODS AND SPECIFICATIONS
FOR MSE WALLS AND SLOPES
From its introduction in the early 1970s, it is estimated that the total construction value of MSE walls
is in excess of $2 billion. This estimate does not include reinforced slope construction, for which
estimates are not available.
Since the early 1980s, hundreds of millions of dollars have been saved on our Nation's highways by
bidding alternates for selection of earth retaining structures. During that time, the number of
available MSE systems or components and the frequency of design and construction problems have
increased. Some problem areas that have been identified include misapplication of wall technology;
poor specifications; lack of specification enforcement; inequitable bidding procedures; and
inconsistent selection, review, and acceptance practices on the part of public agencies. Although the
actual causes of each particular problem are unique, the lack of formal agency procedures that
address the design and construction of earth retaining systems has repeatedly been an indirect cause.
MSE wall and RSS systems are contracted using two different approaches:
!

Agency or material supplier designs with system components, drainage details, erosion
measures, and construction execution explicitly specified in the contracting documents; or

Performance or end-result approach using approved or generic systems or components, with


lines and grades noted on the drawings and geometric and design criteria specified. In this
case, a project-specific design review and detail plan submittal occurs in conjunction with
a normal working drawing submittal.

Some user agencies prefer one approach over the other or a mixed use of approaches developed
based upon criticality of a particular structure. Both contracting approaches are valid if properly
implemented. Each approach has advantages and disadvantages.
This chapter will outline the necessary elements of each contracting procedure, the approval
process and current material and construction specifications.
While this chapter specifically addresses the need for formal policy and procedures for MSE
and RSS structures, the recommendations and need for uniformity of practice applies to all
types of retaining structures.

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8.1

POLICY DEVELOPMENT

It is desirable that each agency develop a formal policy with respect to design and contracting of
MSE wall and RSS systems.
The general objectives of such a policy are to:
!

Obtain agency uniformity.

Establish standard policies and procedures for design technical review and acceptance of
MSEW and RSS systems or components.

Establish responsibility for the acceptance of new retaining wall and reinforced slope systems
and or components.

Delineate responsibility in house for the preparation of plans, design review and construction
control.

Delineate design responsibility for plans prepared by consultants and material suppliers.

Develop design and performance criteria standards to be used on all projects.

Develop and or update material and construction specifications to be used on all projects.

Establish contracting procedures by weighing the advantages/disadvantages of proscriptive


or end-result methods.

8.2

SYSTEM OR COMPONENT APPROVALS

The recent expiration of most process or material patents associated with MSE systems has led to
introduction by numerous suppliers of a variety of complete systems or components that are
applicable for use. Alternatively, it opens the possibility of agency-generic designs that may
incorporate proprietary and generic elements.
Approval of systems or components is a highly desirable feature of any policy for reinforced soil
systems prior to their inclusion during the design phase or as part of a value engineering alternate,
subsequently offered.
For the purpose of prior approval, it is desirable that the supplier submit data that satisfactorily
addresses the following items as a minimum:
!

System development or component and year it was commercialized.

Systems or component supplier organizational structure, specifically engineering and


construction support staff.
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Limitations and disadvantages of system or component.

Prior list of users including contact persons, addresses and telephone numbers.

Sample material and construction control specifications showing material type, quality,
certifications, field testing, acceptance and rejection criteria and placement procedures.

A documented field construction manual describing in detail, with illustrations as necessary,


the step-by-step construction sequence and the contractors quality control plan.

Detailed design calculations for typical applications in conformance with current practice or
AASHTO, whenever applicable.

Typical unit costs, supported by data from actual projects.

Independent performance evaluations of a typical project by a professional engineer.

The development, submittal, and approval of such a technical package provides a complete benchmark for comparison with systems that have been in successful use and a standard when checking
project-specific designs.
For the purpose of review and approval of geosynthetics (systems or components) used for
reinforcement applications, the manufacturer/supplier submittal must satisfactorily address the
following items that are related to the establishment of an allowable tensile strength used in design:
!

Laboratory test results documenting creep performance over a range of load levels for
minimum duration of 10,000 hr. in accordance with ASTM D-5262.

Laboratory test results and methodology for extrapolation of creep data for 75- and 100- year
design life as described in appendix B.

Laboratory test results documenting ultimate strength in accordance with ASTM D-4595, or
GRI-GG1 for geogrids. Tests to be conducted at a strain rate of 10 percent per minute.

Laboratory test results and extrapolation techniques, documenting the hydrolysis resistance
of PET, oxidative resistance of PP and HDPE, and stress cracking resistance of HDPE for
all components of geosynthetic and values for partial factor of safety for aging degradation
calculated for a 75- and 100-year design life. Recommended methods are outlined in FHWA
RD 97-144.

Field and laboratory test results along with literature review documenting values for partial
factor of safety for installation damage as a function of backfill gradation.

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For projects where a potential for biological degradation exists, laboratory test results and
extrapolation techniques, documenting biological resistance of all material components of
the geosynthetic and values for partial factor of safety for biological degradation.

Laboratory test results documenting joint (seams and connections) strength and values for
partial factor of safety for joints and seams (ASTM D-4884 and GRI: GG2).

Laboratory tests documenting pullout interaction coefficients for various soil types or sitespecific soils in accordance with GRI: GG5 and GT7. Appendix A details analysis
procedures and methods.

Laboratory tests documenting direct sliding coefficients for various soil types or project
specific soils in accordance with ASTM D-5321.

Manufacturing quality control program and data indicating minimum test requirements, test
methods, test frequency, and lot size for each product. Further minimum conformance
requirements as proscribed by the manufacturer shall be indicated. The following is a
minimum list of conformance criteria required for approval:

Test

Test Procedure

Wide Width Tensile (geotextiles)


Specific Gravity (HDPE only)
Melt Flow index (PP & HDPE)
Intrinsic Viscosity (PET only)
Carboxyl End Group (PET only)
Single Rib Tensile (geogrids)

ASTM D-4595
ASTM D-1505
ASTM D-1238
ASTM D-4603
ASTM D-2455
GRI:GG1

Minimum Conformance
Requirement
To be provided
by material
supplier or
specialty company

The primary resin used in manufacturing shall be identified as to its ASTM type, class, grade,
and category.
For HDPE resin type, class, grade and category in accordance with ASTM D-1248 shall be
identified. For example type III, class A, grade E5, category 5.
For PP resins, group, class and grade in accordance with ASTM D-4101 shall be identified.
For example group 1, class 1, grade 4.
For Polyester (PET) resins minimum production intrinsic viscosity (ASTM-4603) and
maximum carboxyl end groups (ASTM D-2455) shall be identified.
For all products the minimum UV resistance as measured by ASTM D-4355 shall be
identified.

Prior approval should be based on agency evaluations with respect on the following:

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The conformance of the design method and construction specifications to current agency
requirements for MSE walls and RSS slopes and deviations to current engineering practice.
For reinforced slope systems to current geotechnical practice.

!
!

Past experience in construction and performance of the proposed system.


The adequacy of the data in support of allowable strength (Ta) for geosynthetic
reinforcements.

The adequacy of the QA/QC plan for the manufacture of geosynthetic reinforcements.

8.3

DESIGN AND PERFORMANCE CRITERIA

It is highly desirable that each agency formalize its design and performance criteria as part of a
design manual that may be incorporated in the Bridge Design Manual under Retaining Structures
for MSE walls and/or a Highway Design Manual for reinforced slope structures. This would ensure
that all designs whether Agency/Consultant or Supplier prepared, are based on equal, sound
principles.
The design manual may adopt current AASHTO Section 5.8 Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE)
Walls, or methods outlined in this manual as a primary basis for design and performance criteria and
list under appropriate sections any deviations, additions and clarification to this practice that are
relevant to each particular agency, based on its experience. Construction material specifications for
MSE walls may be modeled on Section 7 of Division II of current AASHTO, Earth Retaining
Systems, or the complete specifications contained in this chapter.
With respect to reinforced slope design, the performance criteria should be developed based on data
outlined in chapter 7. Material and construction specifications for RSS are provided in this chapter
as well as for drainage and erosion control materials usually required for such construction.

8.4

AGENCY OR SUPPLIER DESIGN

This contracting approach includes the development of a detailed set of MSE wall or RSS slope
plans and material specifications in the bidding documents.
The advantage of this approach is that the complete design, details, and material specifications can
be developed and reviewed over a much longer design period. This approach further empowers
agency engineers to examine more options during design but requires an engineering staff trained
in MSE and RSS technology. This trained staff is also a valuable asset during construction, when
questions arise or design modifications are required.
The disadvantage is that for alternate bids, additional sets of designs and plans must be processed,
although only one will be constructed. A further disadvantage is that newer and potentially less
expensive systems or components may not be considered during the design stage.

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The fully detailed plans shall include but not be limited to, the following items:
a.

Plan and Elevation Sheets


!

Plan view to reflect the horizontal alignment and offset from the horizontal control
line to the face of wall or slope. Beginning and end stations for the reinforced soil
construction and transition areas, and all utilities, signs, lights, etc. that affect the
construction should be shown.

For MBW unit faced walls, the plan view should show alignment baseline, limits of
bottom of wall alignment and limits of top of wall alignment, as alignments vary with
the batter of MBW system actually supplied.

Elevation views indicating elevations at top and bottom of walls or slopes, beginning
and end stations, horizontal and vertical break points, location and elevation of
copings and barriers, and whole station points. Location and elevation of final
ground line shall be indicated.

Length, size, and type of soil reinforcement and where changes in length or type
occur shall be shown.

Panel and MBW unit layout and the designation of the type or module, the elevation
of the top of leveling pad and footings, the distance along the face of the wall to all
steps in the footings and leveling pads.

Internal drainage alignment, elevation, and method of passing reinforcements around


such structures.

Any general notes required for construction.

Cross sections showing limits of construction, fill requirements, and excavation


limits. Mean high water level, design high water level, and drawdown conditions
shall be shown where applicable.

Limits and extent of reinforced soil volume.

All construction constraints, such as staged construction, vertical clearance, right-ofway limits, etc.

Payment limits and quantities.

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b.

c.

d.

Facing/Panel Details
!

Facing details for erosion control for reinforced slopes and all details for facing
modules, showing all dimensions necessary to construct the element, reinforcing
steel, and the location of reinforcing attachment devices embedded in the panels.

All details of the architectural treatment or surface finishes.

Drainage Facilities/Special Details


!

All details for construction around drainage facilities, overhead sign footings, and
abutments.

All details for connection to traffic barriers, copings, parapets, noise walls, and
attached lighting.

All details for temporary support including slope face support where warranted.

Design Computations
The plans shall be supported by detailed computations for internal and external stability and
life expectancy for the reinforcement.
For plans prepared by material suppliers, deep seated global stability is normally determined
by the Owner and/or their consultant. Responsibility for compound stability analysis, when
applicable, must be defined by the Owner.

e.

Geotechnical Report
The plans shall be prepared based on a geotechnical report that details the following:
!

Engineering properties of the foundation soils including shear strength and


consolidation parameters used to establish settlement and stability potential for the
proposed construction. Maximum bearing pressures must be established for MSE
wall construction.

Engineering properties of the reinforced soil including shear strength parameters (,


c) compaction criteria, gradation, and electrochemical limits.

Engineering properties of the fill or in situ soil behind the reinforced soil mass,
including shear strength parameters (, c) and for fills compaction criteria.

Groundwater or free water conditions and required drainage schemes if required.

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f.

Construction Specifications
Construction and material specifications for the applicable system or component as detailed
later in this chapter, which include testing requirements for all materials used.

8.5

END RESULT DESIGN APPROACH

Under this approach, often referred as "line and grade" or "two line drawing," the agency prepares
drawings of the geometric requirements for the structure or reinforced slope and material
specifications for the components or systems that may be used. The components or systems that are
permitted are specified or are from a pre-approved list maintained by the agency, from its
prequalification process.
The end-result approach, with sound specifications and prequalification of suppliers and materials,
offers several benefits. Design of the MSE structure is performed by trained and experienced staff.
The prequalified material components (facing, reinforcement, and miscellaneous) have been
successfully and routinely used together, which may not be the case for in-house design with generic
specifications for components. Also, the system specification approach lessens engineering costs
and manpower for an agency and transfers some of the project's design cost to construction.
The disadvantage is that agency engineers may not fully understand the technology at first and,
therefore may not be fully qualified to review and approve construction modifications. Newer and
potentially less expensive systems may not be considered due to the lack of confidence of agency
personnel to review and accept these systems. In addition, complex phasing and special details are
not addressed until after the contract has been awarded.
The bid quantities are obtained from specified pay limits denoted on the "line and grade" drawings
and can be bid on a lump-sum or unit- price basis. The basis for detailed designs to be submitted
after contract award are contained either as complete special provisions or by reference to AASHTO
or agency manuals, as a special provision.
Plans, furnished as part of the contract documents, contain the geometric, geotechnical and designspecific information listed below:
a.

Geometric Requirements
!

Plan and elevation of the areas to be retained, including beginning and end stations.

For MBW unit faced walls, the plan view should show alignment baseline, limits of
bottom of wall alignment and limits of top of wall alignment, as alignments vary with
the batter of MBW system actually supplied.

Typical cross section that indicates face batter, pay limits, drainage requirements,
excavation limits, etc.

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b.

Elevation view of each structure showing original ground line, minimum foundation
level, finished grade at ground surface, and top of wall or slope line.

Location of utilities, signs, etc., and the loads imposed by each such appurtenance,
if any.

Construction constraints such as staged construction, right-of-way, construction


easements, etc.

Mean high water level, design high water level, and drawdown conditions where
applicable.

Geotechnical Requirements
They are the same as in Section 8.4 except that the design responsibility is clearly delineated
as to areas of contractor/supplier and agency responsibility.
Typically, the agency would assume design responsibility for developing stability, allowable
bearing and settlement analyses, as they would be the same regardless of the system used.
The contractor/supplier would assume responsibility for both internal and external stability
for the designed structures.

c.

d.

Structural and Design Requirements


!

Reference to specific governing sections of the agency design manual (materials,


structural, hydraulic and geotechnical), construction specifications and special
provisions. If none is available for MSE walls, refer to current AASHTO, both
Division I, Design and Division II, Specifications.

Magnitude, location, and direction of external loads due to bridges, overhead signs
and lights, and traffic surcharges.

Limits and requirements of drainage features beneath, behind, above, or through the
reinforced soil structure.

Slope erosion protection requirements for reinforced slopes.

Size and architectural treatment of concrete panels for MSE walls.

Performance Requirements
!

Tolerable movement of the structure both horizontal and vertical.

Tolerable face panel movement.

Monitoring and measurement requirements.


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8.6

STANDARD DESIGNS

The development and use of standard MSEW and RSS designs are discussed in sections 4.8 and 6.8,
respectively. With standard design, the agency has certain responsibilities in preparation of the
project plans and the vendor has certain responsibilities. For the example standard designs(34), the
following Agency responsibilities are noted on the standard plans.
a.

MSEW Standard Designs

Agency Responsibilities:
In addition to the standard sheets, plan and front elevation views of the modular block
retaining walls shall be included in the plans. The plan view must show alignment baseline,
limits of bottom of wall alignment, and limits of top of all alignment as alignments vary with
batter of wall system actually supplied. The front elevation must identify bottom and top of
wall elevations, existing grades, and finished grades.
If the wall is curved, show the radius at the bottom and the top of each wall segment and the
P.C. and P.T. station points off of baseline and limits of bottom and top of wall alignment.
Reference standard plates and provide details for traffic barriers, curb and gutter, handrails
and fencing as required by project conditions. See AASHTO and Agency design manuals,
standard plates and details for requirements.
Surface drainage patterns shall be shown in the plan view. Provide dimensions for width and
depth of the drainage swale as well as the type of impervious liner material. Surface water
runoff should be collected above and diverted around wall face.
Detail lines and grades of the internal drainage collection pipe. Detail or note the destination
of internal wall drains as well as the method of termination (daylight end of pipe or
connection into hydraulic structure).
Soft soils and/or high water conditions may not be suitable for application of standard
designs and may require a project specific design.
Standard design charts are not applicable to:
!
Project/sites where foundation soils shear strength and/or bearing capacity do
not meet or exceed values used in the development of standard design charts.
!
Projects with a large (Agency defined) quantity of face area where project
specific designs are recommended.
!
Where slopes in front of wall are steeper than 1:3.
!
Where maximum wall height exceeds 7.0 m.
!
Where walls are tiered.
!
Walls with soundwalls.

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Contractor Responsibilities:
Approved combinations of modular block unit and soil reinforcement products list with
MBW reinforcement class noted are held and maintained by the Agency. Only approved
product combinations may be used in standard designs.
Provide detailed drawings for construction containing:
!
Elevation view with reinforcement placement requirements, wall facing
layout, and geometric information. Top of wall may extend up to 100 mm (4
inches) above plan top of wall elevation.
!
Plan view with bottom and top of wall alignment, and plan limits of wall
alignment.
!
Cross sections detailing batter, reinforcement, vertical spacing.
Reinforcement lengths. Subsurface drainage, surface drainage, and water
runoff collection above wall.
!
Reinforcement layouts reinforcement shall be placed at 100% coverage ratio.
Reinforcement elevations shall be consistent across length of wall structure.
!
Note block, reinforcement, and fill placement methods and requirements.
!
Detail all wall fill penetrations and wall face penetrations. Detail
reinforcement and/or wall facing unit placement around penetrations.
!
Details that are specific to vendor products and their interaction with other
project components.
!
List information on approved combination of MBW unit and geosynthetic
reinforcement, including Agency classification code, nominal block width,
properties for field identification, and installation instructions.
!
Details of cap units and installation/fastening instructions for the caps. Cap
units shall be set in a bed of adhesive designed to withstand moisture and
temperature extremes, remain flexible, and shall be specifically formulated
for bonding masonry to masonry.
!
Certification by professional engineer that the construction layout meets the
requirements of plans and Agency MSEW standards. Deviation from
standard design tables by value engineering submittal only.
b.

RSS Standard Designs

Agency Responsibilities:
Review by Turf and Erosion Prevention Unit and the Office of Environmental Services, shall
be performed for all RSS applications. Turf establishment and maintenance items,
hydroseeding over erosion control blanket, use of turf reinforcement mat in channelized flow
areas, modification of seed mix, turf maintenance contract items, in addition to the details
contained on these drawings, should be evaluated on a project basis.
In addition to the standard sheets, typical cross sections of the soil slopes shall be included
in the plans as well as including soil slopes on the project cross sections.
Detail transition of RSS to adjacent slopes or structures.

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Reference standard plates and provide details for traffic barriers, curb and cutter, handrails
and fencing as required by project conditions. See AASHTO and Agency design manuals,
standard plates, and details for requirements.
Detail lines and grades of the internal drainage collection pipe. Detail or note the destination
of internal drains as well as the method of termination (daylight end of pipe or connection
into adjacent hydraulic structure).
Surface drainage patterns shall be shown in the plan view. Surface water runoff should be
collected above and diverted around slope face.
Define reinforced soil slope angle and define construction limits on the plan view based on
this angle. Standard slope angles are 45 and 70 degrees.
Soft soils and/or high water conditions (defined as groundwater within a depth equal to the
slope height H) may not be suitable for application of standard designs and requires special
consideration by the Agency.
Standard designs are not applicable for projects with large quantity (Agency defined) of
vertical face area where project specific designs are recommended.
Designs based on level backfill, zero toe slope and traffic surcharge. Slopes above or below
the oversteepened reinforced slope are not suitable for application of standard designs and
require special consideration by the Agency.
Refer to Case 1A and 1B for soil slopes between l:2 (26.5E) and 45E maximum. Use Case
2 for soil slopes greater than 45E and up to 70E maximum.
Geotechnical investigation shall be performed for all RSS applications.
Agency Responsibilities:
Approved soil reinforcement products list, with type noted, and approved erosion control
products list, are held and maintained by the Agency. Only approved products may be used
in standard designs.
Provide detailed drawings for construction, containing:
!
Elevation view with reinforcement placement requirements, soil slope layout
and geometric information.
!
Cross sections detailing slope face angle, reinforcement vertical spacing,
reinforcement lengths, subsurface drainage, surface drainage, and slope face
erosion protection.
!
Detail all reinforced fill penetrations and face penetrations. Detail
reinforcement and erosion protection placement around penetrations.
!
List information on approved geosynthetic reinforcement, including Agency
classification code, properties for field identification and installation

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8.7

directions. List product and installation information on welded wire mesh


facing forms if utilized.
Certification by Professional Engineer that construction layout meets the
requirements of plans and Agency RSS standards. Deviation from standard
design tables by value engineering submittal only.

REVIEW AND APPROVALS

Where agency design is based on suppliers plans, it should be approved for incorporation in the
contract documents following a rigorous evaluation by agency structural and geotechnical engineers.
The following is a checklist of items requiring review:
!

Conformance to the project line and grade.

Conformance of the design calculations to agency standards or codes such as current


AASHTO with respect to design methods, allowable bearing capacity, allowable tensile
strength, connection design, pullout parameters, surcharge loads, and factors of safety.

Development of design details at obstructions such as drainage structures or other


appurtenances, traffic barriers, cast-in-place junctions, etc.

Facing details and architectural treatment.

For end result contracting methods, the special provisions should contain a requirement that
complete design drawings and calculations be submitted within 60 days of contract award for agency
review.
The review process should be similar to the supplier design outlined above and be conducted by the
agency's structural and geotechnical engineers.

8.8

CONSTRUCTION SPECIFICATIONS AND SPECIAL PROVISIONS FOR MSEW


AND RSS CONSTRUCTION

A successful reinforced soil project will require sound, well-prepared material and construction
specifications to communicate project requirements as well as construction guidance to both the
contractor and inspection personnel. Poorly prepared specifications often result in disputes between
the contractor and owner representatives.
A frequently occurring problem with MSE systems is the application of different or unequal
construction specifications for similar MSE systems. Users are encouraged to utilize a single unified
specification that applies to all systems, regardless of the contracting method used. The construction
and material requirements for MSE systems are sufficiently well developed and understood to allow
for unified material specifications and common construction methods.

-287-

Guide construction and material specifications are presented in this chapter for the following types
of construction:
!

Section 8.9 - Guide specifications for MSE walls with segmental precast concrete facings
and steel reinforcements (grid or strip).

Section 8.10 - Guide specifications for concrete modular block (MBW) facing.

Section 8.10 - Guide specifications for geosynthetic reinforcement materials.

Section 8.11 - Construction specifications and special provisions for RSS systems.

These guide specifications should serve as the technical basis for agency developed standard
specifications for these items. Local experience and practice should be incorporated as applicable.
The contractor should be required to submit a quality control plan detailing measurements and
documentation that will be maintained during construction to assure consistency in meeting
specification requirement.

8.9

GUIDE SPECIFICATIONS FOR MSE WALLS WITH SEGMENTAL PRECAST


CONCRETE FACINGS

Description
This work shall consist of mechanically stabilized walls and abutments constructed in accordance
with these specifications in reasonably close conformity with the lines, grades, and dimensions
shown on the plans or established by the Engineer. Design details for these structures such as
specified strip or mesh length, concrete panel thickness, and loading appurtenances shall be as shown
on the plans. This specification is intended to cover all steel strip or mesh stabilized earth wall
systems utilizing discrete concrete face panels, some of which may be proprietary.
Working Drawings
Working drawings and design calculations shall be submitted to the Engineer for review and
approval at least 4 weeks before work is to begin. Such submittals shall be required (1) for each
alternative proprietary or nonproprietary earth retaining system proposed as permitted or specified
in the contract, (2) when complete details for the system to be constructed are not included in the
plans, and (3) when otherwise required by the special provisions of these specifications. Working
drawings and design calculations shall include the following:
(1)

Existing ground elevations that have been verified by the Contractor for each location
involving construction wholly or partially in original ground.

(2)

Layout of wall that will effectively retain the earth but not less in height or length than that
shown for the wall system in the plans.

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(3)

Complete design calculations substantiating that the proposed design satisfies the design
parameters in the plans and in the special provisions.

(4)

Complete details of all elements required for the proper construction of the system, including
complete material specifications.

(5)

Earthwork requirements including specifications for material and compaction of backfill.

(6)

Details of revisions or additions to drainage systems or other facilities required to


accommodate the system.

(7)

Other information required in the plans or special provisions or requested by the Engineer.

The contractor shall not start work on any earth retaining system for which working drawings are
required until such drawings have been approved by the Engineer. Approval of the contractor's
working drawings shall not relieve the contractor of any of his responsibility under the contract for
the successful completion of the work.
Materials
General. The contractor shall make arrangements to purchase or manufacture the facing elements,
reinforcing mesh or strips, attachment devices, joint filler, and all other necessary components.
Materials not conforming to this section of the specifications or from sources not listed in the
contract document shall not be used without written consent from the Engineer.
Reinforced Concrete Facing Panels. The panels shall be fabricated in accordance with Section 8.13
of AASHTO, Division II, with the following exceptions and additions.
(1)

The Portland cement concrete shall conform to Class A, (AE) with a minimum 27.6 MPa
compressive strength at 28 days. All concrete shall have air entrainment of 6 percent 1.5
percent with no other additives.

(2)

The units shall be fully supported until the concrete reaches a minimum compressive strength
of 6.9 MPa. The units may be shipped after reaching a minimum compressive strength of
23.4 MPa. At the option of the contractor, the units may be installed after the concrete
reaches a minimum compressive strength of 23.4 MPa.

(3)

Unless otherwise indicated on the plans or elsewhere in the specification, the concrete
surface for the front face shall have a Class 1 finish as defined by section 8.12 and for the
rear face a uniform surface finish. The rear face of the panel shall be screened to eliminate
open pockets of aggregate and surface distortions in excess of 6 mm. The panels shall be
cast on a flat area. the strips or other galvanized attachment devices shall not contact or be
attached to the face panel reinforcement steel.

(4)

Marking - The date of manufacture, the production lot number, and the piece mark shall be
clearly scribed on an unexposed face of each panel.
-289-

(5)

Handling, Storage, and Shipping - All units shall be handled, stored, and shipped in such a
manner as to eliminate the dangers of chipping, discoloration, cracks, fractures, and
excessive bending stresses. Panels in storage shall be supported in firm blocking to protect
the panel connection devices and the exposed exterior finish.

(6)

Tolerances - All units shall be manufactured within the following tolerances:

Panel Dimensions - Position panel connection devices within 25 mm (1-inch), except


for all other dimensions within 5 mm (3/16-inch).

Panel Squareness - Squareness as determined by the difference between the two


diagonals shall not exceed 13 mm (-inch).

Panel Surface Finish - Surface defects on smooth formed surfaces measured over a
length of 1.5 m (5 ft) shall not exceed 3 mm (c-inch). Surface defects on the
textured-finish surfaces measured over a length of 1.5 m (5 ft) shall not exceed 8 mm
5/16-inch).

(7)

Steel - In accordance with section 9.

(8)

Compressive Strength - Acceptance of concrete panels with respect to compressive strength


will be determined on the basis of production lots. A production lot is defined as a group of
panels that will be represented by a single compressive strength sample and will consist of
either 40 panels or a single day's production, whichever is less.

During the production of the concrete panels, the manufacturer will randomly sample the concrete
in accordance with AASHTO T-141. A single compressive strength sample, consisting of a
minimum of four cylinders, will be randomly selected for every production lot.
Compression tests shall be made on a standard 152 mm by 305 mm test specimen prepared in
accordance with AASHTO T-23. Compressive strength testing shall be conducted in accordance
with AASHTO T-22.
Air content testing will be performed in accordance with AASHTO T-152 or AASHTO T-196. Air
content samples will be taken at the beginning of each day's production and at the same time as
compressive samples are taken to ensure compliance.
The slump test will be performed in accordance with AASHTO T-119. The slump will be
determined at the beginning of each day's production and at the same time as the compressive
strength samples are taken.
For every compressive strength sample, a minimum of two cylinders shall be cured in accordance
with AASHTO T-23 and tested at 28 days. The average compressive strength of these cylinders,
when tested in accordance with AASHTO T-22, will provide a compressive strength test result that
will determine the compressive strength of the production lot.

-290-

If the contractor wishes to remove forms or ship the panels prior to 28 days, a minimum of two
additional cylinders will be cured in the same manner as the panels. The average compressive
strength of these cylinders when tested in accordance with AASHTO T-22 will determine whether
the forms can be removed or the panels shipped.
Acceptance of a production lot will be made if the compressive strength test result is greater than or
equal to 27.6 MPa. If the compressive strength test result is less than 27.6 MPa, then acceptance of
the production lot will be based on its meeting the following acceptance criteria in their entirety:

Ninety percent of the compressive strength test results for the overall production shall exceed
28.6 MPa.

The average of any six consecutive compressive strength test results shall exceed 29.3 MPa.

No individual compressive strength test result shall fall below 24.8 MPa.

Rejection. Units shall be rejected because of failure to meet any of the requirements specified above.
In addition, any or all of the following defects shall be sufficient cause for rejection:

Defects that indicate imperfect molding.

Defects indicating honeycombing or open texture concrete.

Cracked or severely chipped panels.

Color variation on front face of panel due to excess form oil or other reasons.

Soil Reinforcing and Attachment Devices. All reinforcing and attachment devices shall be carefully
inspected to ensure they are true to size and free from defects that may impair their strength and
durability.
(1)

Reinforcing Strips - Reinforcing strips shall be hot rolled from bars to the required shape and
dimensions. Their physical and mechanical properties shall conform to either ASTM A-36
or ASTM A-572 grade 65 (AASHTO M-223) or equal. Galvanization shall conform to the
minimum requirements or ASTM A-123 (AASHTO M-111).

(2)

Reinforcing Mesh - Reinforcing mesh shall be shop-fabricated of cold drawn steel wire
conforming to the minimum requirements of ASTM A-82 (AASHTO M-32)and shall be
welded into the finished mesh fabric in accordance with ASTM A-185 (AASHTO M-55).
Galvanization shall be applied after the mesh is fabricated and conform to the minimum
requirements of ASTM A-123 (AASHTO M-111).

(3)

Tie Strips - The tie strips shall be shop-fabricated of a hot rolled steel conforming to the
minimum requirements of ASTM 570, Grade 50 or equivalent. Galvanization shall conform
to ASTM A-123 (AASHTO M-111).

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(4)

Fasteners - Fasteners shall consist of hexagonal cap screw bolts and nuts, which are
galvanized and conform to the requirements of ASTM A-325 (AASHTO M-164) or
equivalent.

(5)

Connector Pins - Connector pins and mat bars shall be fabricated from A-36 steel and welded
to the soil reinforcement mats as shown on the plans. Galvanization shall conform to ASTM
A-123 (AASHTO M-111). Connector bars shall be fabricated of cold drawn steel wire
conforming to the requirements of ASTM A-82 (AASHTO M-32) and galvanized in
accordance with ASTM A-123 (AASHTO M-111).

Joint Materials. Installed to the dimensions and thicknesses in accordance with the plans or
approved shop drawings.
(1)

If required, provide flexible foam strips for filler for vertical joints between panels, and in
horizontal joints where pads are used, where indicated on the plans.

(2)

Provide in horizontal joints between panels preformed EPDM rubber pads conforming to
ASTM D-2000 for 4AA, 812 rubbers, neoprene elastomeric pads having a Durometer
Hardness of 55 5, or high density polyethylene pads with a minimum density of 0.946 g/cm3
in accordance with ASTM 1505.

(3)

Cover all joints between panels on the back side of the wall with a geotextile meeting the
minimum requirements for filtration applications as specified by AASHTO M-288. The
minimum width and lap shall be 300 mm.

Select Granular Backfill Material. All backfill material used in the structure volume shall be
reasonably free from organic or otherwise deleterious materials and shall conform to the following
gradation limits as determined by AASHTO T-27.
U.S. Sieve Size
102 mm
No. 40 mesh sieve
No. 200 mesh sieve

Percent Passing
100
0 - 60
0 - 15

The backfill shall conform to the following additional requirements:


(1)

The plasticity index (P.I.) as determined by AASHTO T-90 shall not exceed 6.

(2)

The material shall exhibit an angle of internal friction of not less than 34o, as determined by
the standard direct shear test AASHTO T-236 on the portion finer than the No. 10 sieve,
using a sample of the material compacted to 95 percent of AASHTO T-99, Methods C or D
(with oversized correction as outlined in Note 7 at optimum moisture content). No testing
is required for backfills where 80 percent of sizes are greater than 19 mm.

-292-

(3)

Soundness - The materials shall be substantially free of shale or other soft, poor- durability
particles. The material shall have a magnesium sulfate soundness loss of less than 30 percent
after four cycles, measured in accordance with AASHTO T-104, or a sodium sulfate loss of
less than 15 percent after five cycles determined in accordance with AASHTO T-104.

(4)

Electrochemical Requirements - The backfill materials shall meet the following criteria:
Requirements

Test Methods

Resistivity >3,000 ohm-cm


pH 5-10
Chlorides <100 parts per million
Sulfates <200 parts per million
Organic Content <1%

AASHTO T-288-91
AASHTO T-289-91
AASHTO T-291-91
AASHTO T-290-91
AASHTO T-267-86

If the resistivity is greater or equal to 5000 ohm-cm, the chloride and sulfates requirements
may be waived.
Concrete Leveling Pad. The concrete footing shall conform to AASHTO Division II, section 8.2
for Class B concrete.
Acceptance of Material. The contractor shall furnish the Engineer a Certificate of Compliance
certifying the above materials, comply with the applicable contract specifications. A copy of all test
results performed by the contractor necessary to assure contract compliance shall be furnished to the
Engineer.
Acceptance will be based on the Certificate of Compliance, accompanying test reports, and visual
inspection by the Engineer, or tests performed independently by the Engineer.
Construction
Wall Excavation. Unclassified excavation shall be in accordance with the requirements of AASHTO
Division II, Section 1 and in reasonably close conformity to the limits and construction stages shown
on the plans. Temporary excavation support as required shall be the responsibility of the contractor.
Foundation Preparation. The foundation for the structure shall be graded level for a width equal
to the length of reinforcement elements plus 300 mm or as shown on the plans. Prior to wall
construction, except where constructed on rock, the foundation shall be compacted with a smooth
wheel vibratory roller. Any foundation soils found to be unsuitable shall be removed and replaced
with select granular backfill as per Materials of these specifications.
At each panel foundation level, a precast reinforced or a cast-in-place unreinforced concrete leveling
pad of the type shown on the plans shall be provided. The leveling pad shall be cured a minimum
of 12 hours before placement of wall panels.

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Wall Erection. Where a proprietary wall system is used, a field representative shall be available
during the erection of the wall to assist the fabricator, contractor, and engineer.
Precast concrete panels shall be placed so that their final position is vertical or battered as shown on
the plans. For erection, panels are handled by means of lifting devices connected to the upper edge
of the panel. Panels should be placed in successive horizontal lifts in the sequence shown on the
plans as backfill placement proceeds. As backfill material is placed behind the panels, the panels
shall be maintained in position by means of temporary wedges or bracing according to the wall
supplier's recommendations. Concrete facing vertical tolerances and horizontal alignment tolerances
shall not exceed 20 mm when measured with a 3 m straight edge. During construction, the
maximum allowable offset in any panel joint shall be 20 mm. The completed wall shall have overall
vertical tolerance of the wall (top to bottom) shall not exceed 13 mm per 3 m of wall height.
Reinforcement elements shall be placed normal to the face of the wall, unless otherwise shown on
the plans. Prior to placement of the reinforcing elements, backfill shall be compacted in accordance
with these specifications.
Backfill Placement. Backfill placement shall closely follow erection of each course of panels.
Backfill shall be placed in such a manner as to avoid any damage or disturbance of the wall materials
or misalignment of the facing panels or reinforcing element. Any wall materials that become
damaged during backfill placement shall be removed and replaced at the contractor's expense. Any
misalignment or distortion of the wall facing panels due to placement of backfill outside the limits
of this specification shall be corrected at the contractor's expense. At each reinforcement level, the
backfill shall be placed and compacted to the level of the connection. Backfill placement methods
near the facing shall assure that no voids exist directly beneath the reinforcing elements.
Backfill shall be compacted to 95 percent of the maximum density as determined by AASHTO T-99,
Method C or D (with oversize corrections as outlined in Note 7 of that test). For backfills containing
more than 30 percent retained on the 19 mm sieve, a method compaction consisting of at least four
passes by a heavy roller shall be used. For applications where spread footings are used to support
bridge or other structural loads, the top 1.5 m below the footing elevation
should be compacted to 100 percent AASHTO T-99.
The moisture content of the backfill material prior to and during compaction shall be uniformly
distributed throughout each layer. Backfill materials shall be placed at a moisture content not more
than 2 percentage points less than or equal to the optimum moisture content. Backfill material with
a placement moisture content in excess of the optimum moisture content shall be removed and
reworked until the moisture content is uniformly acceptable throughout the entire lift.
The maximum lift thickness before compaction shall not exceed 300 mm. The contractor shall
decrease this lift thickness, if necessary, to obtain the specified density. Compaction within 1 m of
the back face of the wall shall be achieved by at least three passes of a lightweight mechanical
tamper, roller, or vibratory system.
At the end of each day's operation, the contractor shall slope the level of the backfill away from the
wall facing to rapidly direct runoff away from the face. The contractor shall not allow surface runoff
from adjacent areas to enter the wall construction site.

-294-

Measurement
Wall Materials. The unit of measurement for furnishing and fabricating all materials for the walls,
including facing materials, reinforcement elements, attachment devices, joint materials, and
incidentals will be the square meter of wall face constructed.
Wall Erection. The unit of measurement for wall erection will be per square meter of wall face. The
quantity to be paid for will be the actual quantity erected in place at the site. Payment shall include
compensation for foundation preparation, technical representatives, reinforcement elements, and
erection of the panel elements to the lines and grade shown on the plans.
Concrete Leveling Pad. The unit of measurement for the concrete leveling pad will be the number
of linear meters, complete in place and accepted, measured along the lines and grade of the footing.
Select Granular Backfill. The unit of measurement for select granular backfill will be the
embankment plan quantity in cubic meters.
Payment
The quantities, determined as described above, will be paid for at the contract price per unit of
measurement, respectively, for each pay item listed below and shown in the bid schedule, which
prices and payment will be full compensation for the work prescribed in this section, except as
provided below:
Excavation of unsuitable foundation materials will be measured and paid for as provided in
AASHTO Division II, Section 1. Select backfill for replacement of unsuitable foundation materials
will be paid for under item (4).
Payment will be made under:
Pay Unit

Pay Item
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Wall materials
Wall erection
Concrete leveling pad
Select granular backfill
Coping barrier
Traffic barriers

Square meter
Square meter
Linear meter
Cubic meter
Linear meter
Linear meter

MSE walls have been contracted on a lump sum or per wall basis to include compensation for all
excavation, temporary support as required, materials, labor and incidental construction. For
equitable bidding this method requires accurate quantity determinations and a method of
compensation for changed conditions and or overruns/underruns of quantities.

-295-

8.10

GUIDE SPECIFICATIONS FOR CONCRETE MODULAR BLOCK (MBW) FACING


AND UNIT FILL

Where MBW units are specified for a project, the primary specification detailed in Section 8.11,
requires a deletion of Reinforced Concrete Facing Panels and the insertion of a new section detailed
below. Wall erection requires the deletion of the first two sentences from the second paragraph. A
specification for unit fill placed within the MBW units must be added.
It is presently recommended that ASTM C 1372, Standard Specification for Segmental Retaining
Wall Units specifications be used as a model, except that the compressive strength for units should
be increased to 28 MPa (4,000 psi) to increase durability, maximum water absorption be limited to
5 percent, requirements for freeze-thaw testing modified, and tolerance limits expanded.
Note that more stringent durability requirements are being used by the Minnesota Department of
Transportation (MN/DOT) based upon their experience, research, climatic conditions and deicing
salt usage. The MN/DOT criteria wall and cap units shall conform to ASTM C1372, except for the
items in the following table.
Item

Test Standard

Requirement

Compressive strength

ASTM C 140

38 MPA min.
40 MPA min. Ave. for 3 units

Water absorption

ASTM C 140

# 5% after 24 hours

Freeze-thaw durability
of wall units

ASTM C 1262 Test in a 3% saline


solution. Continue testing (and report
results of) until (1) weight loss of each of
5 specimens exceeds 2% of its initial
weight; OR (2) weight loss of 1 of the 5
test specimens exceeds 2.5% of its initial
weight; OR (3) specimens have been
tested for at least 100 cycles.

(1) Weight loss of each of 5 test


specimens at the conclusion of 90 cycles
shall not exceed 1% of its initial weight;
OR (2) Weight loss of 4 out of 5 test
specimens at the conclusion of 100
cycles shall not exceed 1.5% of its initial
weight, with the maximum allowable loss
for the 5th specimen to not exceed 10%.

Freeze-thaw durability
of cap units

same as for wall units

same as for wall units, except (1) is ast


conclusion of 40 cycles and (2) is at
conclusion of 50 cycles for

Cap unit

Top surface sloped at 1 mm fall per 10


mm run front to back or crowned at the
center.

Surface sealer

Contact MN/DOT Concrete Engineering


Unit for requirements.

Apply surface sealer to the top, exposed


front face and back side of the upper
three courses.

The full amended specification is included as follows:

-296-

Scope
This specification covers hollow and solid concrete structural retaining wall units, machine made
from Portland cement, water, and suitable mineral aggregates with or without the inclusion of other
materials. The units are intended for use in the construction of mortarless, modular block (MBW)
retaining walls.
Referenced ASTM Documents
C-33 Specifications for Concrete Aggregates
C-140 Methods of Sampling and Testing Concrete Masonry Units
C-150 Specification for Portland Cement
C-331 Specification for Lightweight Aggregates for Concrete Masonry Units
C-595M Specification for Blended Hydraulic Cements
C-618 Specification for Fly Ash and Raw or Calcined Natural Pozzolan for Use as a Mineral
Admixture in Portland Cement Concrete.
C-989 Specification for Ground Granulated Blast Furnace Slag Cement
C-1262 Test Method for Evaluating the Freeze-Thaw Durability of Manufactured Concrete
Masonry Units and Related Concrete Products

Materials
1.0

Cementious Materials - Materials shall conform to the following applicable specifications:

1.1

Portland Cement - Specification C-150.

1.2

Modified Portland Cement - Portland Cement conforming to Specification C-150, modified


as follows:
1.2.1

Limestone - Calcium carbonate, with a minimum 85% (CaCO3) content, may be


added to the cement, provided the requirements of Specification C 150 as modified
are met:
1)
2)
3)

Limitation on Insoluble Residue - 1.5%


Limitation on Air Content of Mortar - Volume percent, 22% max.
Limitation on Loss of Ignition - 7%

1.3

Blended Cements - Specification C-595M or C1157C .

1.4

Pozzolans - Specification C-618.

1.5

Blast Furnace Slag Cement - Specification C-989.

-297-

NOTE:

Sulphate resistant cement should be used in the manufacture of units to be


used in areas where the soil has high sulphate content such as arid regions
of the western United States.

2.0

Aggregates - Aggregates shall conform to the following specifications, except that grading
requirements shall not necessarily apply:

2.1

Normal Weight Aggregates - Specification C-33.

2.2

Lightweight Aggregates - Specification C-331.

2.3

Aggregate Soundness - Aggregate soundness shall be determined in accordance with


AASHTO T-103 and/or T-104. Acceptance shall be based on the Agency requirements for
hydraulic cement concrete.

3.0

Other Constituents - Air-entraining agents, coloring pigments, integral water repellents,


finely ground silica, and other constituents shall be previously established as suitable for use
in concrete MBW units shall conform to applicable ASTM Standards or, shall be shown by
test or experience to be not detrimental to the durability of the MBW units or any material
customarily used in masonry construction.

Physical Requirements
1.0

At the time of delivery to the work site, the units shall conform to the following physical
requirements:
Table 1. Physical Requirements
Minimum required compressive strength
(Average 3 coupons) MPA

28 MPA

Minimum required compressive strength


(Individual coupon) MPA

24.5 MPA

Maximum water absorption

5%

Maximum number of blocks per lot

2,000

2.0

Freeze-Thaw Durability. In areas where repeated freezing and thawing under saturated
conditions occur, the units shall be tested to demonstrate freeze-thaw durability in
accordance with Test Method ASTM C 1262. Freeze-thaw durability shall be based on tests
from five specimens made with the same materials, concrete mix design, manufacturing
process, and curing method, conducted not more than 24 months prior to delivery.

2.1

Acceptance Criteria. Specimens shall comply with either of the following:


-298-

The weight loss of four out of five specimens at the conclusion of 150 cycles shall not
exceed 1% of its initial weight when tested in water.
The weight loss of each of four of the five test specimens at the conclusion of 50 cycles
shall not exceed 1.5% of its initial mass when tested in a 3% saline solution. The agency
may require that either or both acceptance criteria be met depending on the severity of the
project location.
3.0

Tolerances. Blocks shall be manufactured within the following tolerances:

3.1

The length and width of each individual block shall be within 3.2 mm of the specified
dimension. Hollow units shall have a minimum wall thickness of 32 mm.

3.2

The height of each individual block shall be within 1.6 mm of the specified dimension.

3.3

When a broken face finish is required, the dimension of the front face shall be within 25
mm of the theoretical dimension of the unit.

3.4

Finish and Appearance. All units shall be sound and free of cracks or other defects that
would interfere with the proper placing of the unit or significantly impair the strength or
permanence of the construction. Minor cracks (e.g. no greater than 0.5 mm in width and no
longer than 25% of the unit height) incidental to the usual method of manufacture or minor
chipping resulting from shipment and delivery, are not grounds for rejection.
The face or faces of units that are to be exposed shall be free of chips, cracks or other
imperfections when viewed from a distance of 10 m under diffused lighting. Up to five
percent of a shipment may contain slight cracks or small chips not larger than 25 mm.
Color and finish shall be as shown on the plans and shall be erected with a running bond
configuration.

3.5

If pins are required to align MBW units, they shall consist of a nondegrading polymer or
galvanized steel and be made for the express use with the MBW units supplied.

3.6

Cap units shall be cast to or attached to the top MBW units in strict accordance with the
manufacturer's requirements and the adhesive manufacturer's recommended procedures.
Contractor shall provide a written 10 year warranty, acceptable to the Owner, that the
integrity of the materials used to attach the cap blocks will preclude separation and
displacement of the cap blocks for the warranty period.

4.0

Sampling and Testing. Acceptance of the concrete block with respect to compressive
strength, will be determined on a lot basis. The lot will be randomly sampled in accordance
with ASTM C-140. Compressive strength tests shall be performed by the manufacturer and
submitted to the Owner. Compressive strength test specimens shall be cored or shall
conform to the saw-cut coupon provisions of section 5.2.4 of ASTM C-140. Blocks
represented by test coupons that do not reach an average compressive strength of 28 MPA
will be rejected.
-299-

4.1

Rejection. Blocks shall be rejected because of failure to meet any of the requirements
specified above. In addition, any or all of the following defects shall be sufficient cause for
rejection.
-

Defects that indicate imperfect molding.


Defects indicating honeycomb or open texture concrete.
Cracked or severely chipped blocks.
Color variation on front face of block due to excess form oil or other reasons.

Unit Fill
The unit fill and drainage aggregate shall be a well graded crushed stone or granular fill meeting the
following gradation:
U.S. Sieve Size
25 mm
19 mm
No. 4
No. 40
No.200

8.11

Percent Passing
100-75
50-75
0-60
0-50
0-5

GUIDE SPECIFICATIONS
MATERIALS

FOR

GEOSYNTHETIC

REINFORCEMENT

Where geosynthetic reinforcements are used for the construction of MSE walls with either modular
block facings (MBW) or segmental precast concrete units, the primary specification under Materials,
Soil Reinforcement and Attachment Devices should be replaced as follows:
Materials
1.0

Geotextiles and Thread for Sewing


Woven or nonwoven geotextiles shall consist only of long chain polymeric filaments or yarns
formed into a stable network such that the filaments or yarns retain their position relative to
each other during handling, placement, and design service life. At least 95 percent by weight
of the long chain polymer shall be a polyolefin or polyester. The material shall be free of
defects and tears. The geotextile shall conform as a minimum to the properties indicated for
Class 1 under AASHTO M-288, Geotextile Specification for Highway Applications.

2.0

Geogrids
The geogrid shall be a regular network of integrally connected polymer tensile elements with
aperture geometry sufficient to permit significant mechanical interlock with the surrounding

-300-

soil or rock. The geogrid structure shall be dimensionally stable and able to retain its
geometry under manufacture, transport and installation.
3.0

Required Properties
The specific geosynthetic material(s) shall be preapproved by the agency and shall have longterm strength (Tal) as listed on table 1 for each geosynthetic specified and for the fill type
shown.

4.0

Certification: The Contractor shall submit a manufacturer's certification that the


geosynthetics supplied meet the respective index criteria set when the geosynthetic was
approved by the agency, measured in full accordance with all test methods and standards
specified and as set forth in these specifications.
Table 1. Required Geosynthetic Reinforcement Properties.
Geosynthetic(1)

Ultimate Strength (TULT)


ASTM 4595(2) or
GRI:GG1

Long-Term
Strength(3)
(Tal)

For use with


these Fills(4)

GW-GM

SW-SM-SC

GW-GM

SW-SM-SC

NOTES:
(1)

For geotextiles, minimum permeability > ___ m/s > reinforced soil permeability.
Minimum survivability properties Class 1 per AASHTO M-288 specification.
(2)
Based on minimum average roll values (MARV) (kN/m). Use D-4595 for
geotextiles. D-4595 OR GRI:GG1 can be used for geogrids, however, the same test method
must be used for definition of the reduction factors.
(3)
Long-Term strength (Tal) based on (kN/m)

Tal 

(4)

TULT
RFD @ RFID @ RFCR

where RFCR is developed from creep tests performed in accordance with ASTM D5262, RFID obtained from site installation damage testing and RFD from hydrolysis
or oxidative degradation testing extrapolated to 75 or 100 year design life. For
default reduction factors, include the durability requirements in table 9, chapter 3
as additional reinforcement property requirements.
Unified Soil Classification.

-301-

The manufacturer's certificate shall state that the furnished geosynthetic meets the
requirements of the specifications as evaluated by the manufacturer's quality control
program. The certificates shall be attested to by a person having legal authority to bond
the manufacturer. In case of dispute over validity of values, the Engineer can require
the Contractor to supply test data from an agency approved laboratory to support the
certified values submitted, at the Contractors cost.
5.0

Manufacturing Quality Control: The geosynthetic reinforcement shall be manufactured with


a high degree of quality control. The Manufacturer is responsible for establishing and
maintaining a quality control program to ensure compliance with the requirements of the
specification. The purpose of the QC testing program is to verify that the reinforcement
geosynthetic being supplied to the project is representative of the material used for
performance testing and approval by the agency.
Conformance testing shall be performed as part of the manufacturing process and may vary
for each type of product. As a minimum the following index tests shall be considered as
applicable for an acceptable QA/QC program:

6.0

Property

Test Procedure

Specific Gravity (HDPE only)


Ultimate Tensile Strength
Melt Flow (HDPE and PP only)
Intrinsic Viscosity (PET only)
Carboxyl End Group (PET only)

ASTM D-1505
ASTM D-4595; GRI:GG1
ASTM D-1238
ASTM D-4603
ASTM D-2455

Sampling, Testing, and Acceptance


Sampling and conformance testing shall be in accordance with ASTM D-4354.
Conformance testing procedures shall be as established under 5.0. Geosynthetic product
acceptance shall be based on ASTM D-4759.
The quality control certificate shall include:
Roll numbers and identification
Sampling procedures
Result of quality control tests, including a description of test methods used.

7.0

Granular Backfill
The backfill shall conform to the specified fill under section 8.11 except that the maximum
size of backfill shall be 20 mm, unless full scale installation damage tests are conducted in
accordance with ASTM D-5818.
Note that additional pH requirements for the backfill may be warranted depending on the
geosynthetic used.
-302-

8.12

CONSTRUCTION SPECIFICATIONS FOR REINFORCED SLOPE SYSTEMS

The recent availability of many different geosynthetic reinforcement materials as well as drainage
and erosion control products requires consideration of different alternatives prior to preparation of
contract documents so that contractors are given an opportunity to bid using feasible, cost- effective
materials. Any proprietary material should undergo an agency review prior to inclusion as either an
alternate offered during design (in-house) or construction (value engineering or end result) phase.
It is highly recommended that each agency develop documented procedures for:
!

Review and approval of geosynthetic soil reinforcing materials.

Review and approval of drainage composite materials.

Review and approval of erosion control materials.

Review and approval of geosynthetic reinforced slope systems and suppliers.

In-house design and performance criteria for reinforced slopes.

The following guidelines are recommended as the basis for specifications or special provisions for
the furnishing and construction of reinforced soil slopes on the basis of pre approved reinforcement
materials. Specification guidelines are presented for each of the following topics:
(a)
(b)
(c)
(d)

Specification Guidelines for RSS Construction (Agency design).


Specifications for Erosion Control Mat or Blanket.
Specifications for Geosynthetic Drainage Composite.
Specification Guidelines for Proprietary Geosynthetic RSS Systems.

a.

Specification Guidelines For RSS Construction (Agency Design)


Description
Work shall consist of furnishing and placing geosynthetic soil reinforcement for construction
of reinforced soil slopes.
Geosynthetic Reinforcement Material
The specific geosynthetic reinforcement material and supplier shall be pre approved by the
agency as outlined in the agency's reinforced soil slope policy.
The geosynthetic reinforcement shall consist of a geogrid or a geotextile that can develop
sufficient mechanical interlock with the surrounding soil or rock. The geosynthetic
reinforcement structure shall be dimensionally stable and able to retain its geometry under
construction stresses and shall have high resistance to damage during construction,

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ultraviolet degradation, and all forms of chemical and biological degradation encountered
in the soil being reinforced.
The geosynthetics shall have a Long-Term Strength (Tal) and Pullout Resistance, for the soil
type(s) indicated, as listed in table S1 for geotextiles and/or table S2 for geogrids.
The Contractor shall submit a manufacturer's certification that the geosynthetics supplied
meet the respective index criteria set when the geosynthetic was approved by the agency,
measured in full accordance with all test methods and standards specified. In case of dispute
over validity of values, the Engineer can require the Contractor to supply test data from an
agency approved laboratory to support the certified values submitted, the Contractors cost.

Table S-1. Required Geotextile Reinforcement Properties.


Geotextile(1)

Ultimate Strength (TULT)


ASTM 4595(2)

Long-Term
Strength(3)
(Tal)

For use with


these Fills(4)

GW-GM

SW-SM-SC

GW-GM

SW-SM-SC

NOTES:
(1)

Minimum permeability > ___ m/s > reinforced soil permeability. Minimum
survivability properties Class 1 per AASHTO M-288 specification.
(2)
Based on minimum average roll values (MARV) (kN/m).
(3)
Long-Term strength (Tal) based on (kN/m)

Tal 

(4)

TULT
RFD @ RFID @ RFCR

where RFCR is developed from creep tests performed in accordance with ASTM D5262, RFID obtained from site installation damage testing and RFD from hydrolysis
or oxidative degradation testing extrapolated to 75 or 100 year design life. For
default reduction factors, include the durability requirements in table 9, chapter 3
as additional reinforcement property requirements.
Unified Soil Classification.

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Table S-2. Required Geogrid Properties.


Geogrid

Ultimate Strength (TULT)


ASTM 4595(1) or
GRI:GG1

Long-Term
Strength(2)
(Tal)

For use with


these Fills(3)

GW-GM

SW-SM-SC

GW-GM

SW-SM-SC

NOTES:
(1)

Based on minimum average roll values (MARV) (kN/m). Use D-4595 for
geotextiles. D-4595 OR GRI:GG1 can be used for geogrids, however, the same test method
must be used for definition of the reduction factors.
(2)
Long-Term strength (Tal) based on (kN/m)

Tal 

(3)

TULT
RFD @ RFID @ RFCR

where RFCR is developed from creep tests performed in accordance with ASTM D5262, RFID obtained from site installation damage testing and RFD from hydrolysis
or oxidative degradation testing extrapolated to 75 or 100 year design life. For
default reduction factors, include the durability requirements in table 9, chapter 3
as additional reinforcement property requirements.
Unified Soil Classification.

Quality Assurance/Index Properties: Testing procedures for measuring design properties


require elaborate equipment, tedious set up procedures and long durations for testing. These
tests are inappropriate for quality assurance (QA) testing of geosynthetic reinforcements
received on site. In lieu of these tests for design properties, a series of index criteria may be
established for QA testing. These index criteria include mechanical and geometric properties
that directly impact the design strength and soil interaction behavior of geosynthetics. It is
likely each family of products will have varying index properties and QC/QA test
procedures. QA testing should measure the respective index criteria set when the
geosynthetic was approved by the agency. Minimum average roll values, per ASTM D 4759,
shall be used for conformance.
Construction
Delivery, Storage, and Handling - Follow requirements set forth under materials
specifications for geosynthetic reinforcement, drainage composite, and geosynthetic erosion
mat.

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Site Excavation - All areas immediately beneath the installation area for the geosynthetic
reinforcement shall be properly prepared as detailed on the plans, specified elsewhere within
the specifications, or directed by the Engineer. Subgrade surface shall be level, free from
deleterious materials, loose, or otherwise unsuitable soils. Prior to placement of geosynthetic
reinforcement, subgrade shall be proof-rolled to provide a uniform and firm surface. Any
soft areas, as determined by the Owner's Engineer, shall be excavated and replaced with
suitable compacted soils. The foundation surface shall be inspected and approved by the
Owner's Geotechnical Engineer prior to fill placement. Benching the backcut into competent
soil shall be performed as shown on the plans or as directed, in a manner that ensures
stability.
Geosynthetic Placement - The geosynthetic reinforcement shall be installed in accordance
with the manufacturer's recommendations, unless otherwise modified by these specifications.
The geosynthetic reinforcement shall be placed within the layers of the compacted soil as
shown on the plans or as directed.
The geosynthetic reinforcement shall be placed in continuous longitudinal strips in the
direction of main reinforcement. Joints in the design strength direction (perpendicular to
the slope) shall not be permitted with geotextile or geogrid, except as indicated on the
drawings.
Horizontal coverage of less than 100 percent shall not be allowed unless specifically
detailed in the construction drawings. In the case of 100% coverage in plan view adjacent
strips need not be overlapped.
Adjacent rolls of geosynthetic reinforcement shall be overlapped or mechanically
connected where exposed in a wrap-around face system, as applicable.
Place only that amount of geosynthetic reinforcement required for immediately pending
work to prevent undue damage. After a layer of geosynthetic reinforcement has been
placed, the next succeeding layer of soil shall be placed and compacted as appropriate.
After the specified soil layer has been placed, the next geosynthetic reinforcement layer
shall be installed. The process shall be repeated for each subsequent layer of geosynthetic
reinforcement and soil.
Geosynthetic reinforcement shall be placed to lay flat and pulled tight prior to backfilling.
After a layer of geosynthetic reinforcement has been placed, suitable means, such as pins
or small piles of soil, shall be used to hold the geosynthetic reinforcement in position until
the subsequent soil layer can be placed. Under no circumstances shall a track-type vehicle
be allowed on the geosynthetic reinforcement before at least 150 mm of soil has been
placed. Sudden braking and sharp turning sufficient to displace fill shall be avoided.
During construction, the surface of the fill should be kept approximately horizontal.
Geosynthetic reinforcement shall be placed directly on the compacted horizontal fill
surface. Geosynthetic reinforcements are to be placed within 75 mm of the design
elevations and extend the length as shown on the elevation view unless otherwise directed
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by the Owner's Engineer. Correct orientation of the geosynthetic reinforcement shall be


verified by the Contractor.
Fill Placement - Fill shall be compacted as specified by project specifications or to at least
95 percent of the maximum density determined in accordance with AASHTO T-99,
whichever is greater.
Density testing shall be made every 500 m3 of soil placement or as otherwise specified by
the Owner's Engineer or contract documents.
Backfill shall be placed, spread, and compacted in such a manner to minimize the
development of wrinkles and/or displacement of the geosynthetic reinforcement.
Fill shall be placed in 300 mm maximum lift thickness where heavy compaction equipment
is to be used, and 150 mm maximum uncompacted lift thickness where hand operated
equipment is used.
Backfill shall be graded away from the slope crest and rolled at the end of each work day
to prevent ponding of water on surface of the reinforced soil mass.
Tracked construction equipment shall not be operated directly upon the geosynthetic
reinforcement. A minimum fill thickness of 150 mm is required prior to operation of
tracked vehicles over the geosynthetic reinforcement. Turning of tracked vehicles should
be kept to a minimum to prevent tracks from displacing the fill and the geosynthetic
reinforcement.
If approved by the Engineer, rubber-tired equipment may pass over the geosynthetic
reinforcement at speeds of less than 16 km/h. Sudden braking and sharp turning shall be
avoided.
Erosion Control Material Installation. See Erosion Control Material Specification for
installation notes.
Geosynthetic Drainage Composite. See Geocomposite Drainage Composite Material
Specification for installation notes.
Final Slope Geometry Verification. Contractor shall confirm that as-built slope geometries
conform to approximate geometries shown on construction drawings.
Method of Measurement
Measurement of geosynthetic reinforcement is on a square meter basis and will be computed
on the total area of geosynthetic reinforcement shown on the construction drawings,
exclusive of the area of geosynthetics used in any overlaps. Overlaps are an incidental item.

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Basis of Payment
The accepted quantities of geosynthetic reinforcement by Type will be paid for per square
meter in-place.
Payment will be made under:
Pay Item

Pay Unit

Geogrid Soil Reinforcement


Geogrid Soil Reinforcement
or
Geotextile Soil Reinforcement
Geotextile Soil Reinforcement
b.

Type Asquare meter


Type B
square meter
-

Type Asquare meter


Type B
square meter

Specification for Erosion Control Mat or Blanket


Description
Work shall consist of furnishing and placing a synthetic erosion control mat and/or
degradable erosion control blanket for slope face protection and lining of runoff channels for
use in construction of reinforced soil slopes as shown on the plans or as specified by the
Engineer.
Materials
(1) Erosion Control
The specific erosion control material and supplier shall be prequalified by the Agency prior
to use.
Prequalification procedures and a current list of prequalified materials may be obtained by
writing to the Agency. A 0.3 m x 0.3 m sample of the material may be required by the
Engineer in order to verify prequalification.
The soil erosion control mat shall be a Class __ material and be one (1) of the following
types as shown on the plans:

(i)

Type __. Long-term duration (Longer than 2 Years)


Shear Stress (tD) > 95 to < 240 Pa
Prequalified Type __ products are:
______________
______________
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______________
______________

(ii)

Type __. Long-term duration (Longer than 2 Years)


Shear Stress (tD) greater than or equal to 240 Pa
Prequalified Type __ products are:
______________
______________
______________
______________

Certification. The Contractor shall submit a manufacturer's certification that the erosion
mat/blanket supplied meets the property criteria specified when the material was approved
by the agency. The manufacturer's certification shall include a submittal package of
documented test results that confirm the property values. In case of dispute over validity
of property values, the Engineer can require the Contractor to supply property test data
from an approved laboratory to support the certified values submitted. Minimum average
roll values, per ASTM D-4759, shall be used for conformance.
(2)
Staples.
Staples for anchoring the soil erosion control mat shall be U-shaped, made of 3 mm or large
diameter steel wire, or other approved material, have a width of 25 to 50 mm, and a length
of not less than 450 mm for the face of RSS, and not less than 300 mm for runoff channels.
Construction Methods
(1)
General.
The soil erosion control mat shall conform to the class and type shown on the plans. The
Contractor has the option of selecting an approved soil erosion control mat conforming to
the class and type shown on the plans, and according to the current approved material list.
(2)
Installation.
The soil erosion control mat, whether installed as slope protection or as flexible channel liner
in accordance with the approved materials list, shall be placed within 24 hours after seeding
or sodding operations have been completed, or as approved by the Engineer. Prior to placing
the mat, the area to be covered shall be relatively free of all rocks or clods over 1- inches
in maximum dimension and all sticks or other foreign material which will prevent the close
contact of the mat with the soil. The area shall be smooth and free of ruts or depressions
exist for any reason, the Contractor shall be required to rework the soil until it is smooth and
to reseed or resod the area at the Contractors expense.
Installation and anchorage of the soil erosion control mat shall be in accordance with the
project construction drawings unless otherwise specified in the contract or directed by the
Engineer.
The erosion control material shall be placed and anchored on a smooth graded, firm surface
approved by the Engineer. Anchoring terminal ends of the erosion control material shall be
accomplished through use of key trenches. The material in the trenches shall be anchored
to the soil with staples on maximum 0.5 m centers.
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Erosion control material shall be anchored, overlapped, and otherwise constructed to ensure
performance until vegetation is well established. Pins shall be as designated on the
construction drawings, with a maximum spacing of 1.25 m recommended.
Soil Filling. If noted on the construction drawings, the erosion control mat shall be filled
with a fine grained topsoil, as recommended by the manufacturer. Soil shall be lightly raked
or brushed on/into the mat to fill mat thickness or to a maximum depth of 25 mm.
Method of Measurement
Measurement of erosion mat and erosion blanket material is on a square meter basis and will
be computed on the projected slope face area from defined plan lines, exclusive of the area
of material used in any overlaps, or from payment lines established in writing by the
Engineer. Overlaps, anchors, checks, terminals or junction slots, and wire staples or wood
stakes are incidental items.
Quantities of erosion control material as shown on the plans may be increased or decreased
at the direction of the Engineer based on construction procedures and actual site conditions.
Such variations in quantity will not be considered as alterations in the details of construction
or a change in the character of work.
Basis of Payment
The accepted quantities of erosion control material will be paid for per square meter in place.
Payment will be made under:
Pay Item

Pay Unit

Geosynthetic (Permanent) Erosion Control Mat

square meter

and/or
Degradable (Temporary) Erosion Control Blanket
c.

square meter

Specification for Geosynthetic Drainage Composite


Description
Work shall consist of furnishing and placing a geosynthetic drainage system as a subsurface
drainage media for reinforced soil slopes.
Drainage Composite Materials
The specific drainage composite material and supplier shall be preapproved by the Agency.
The geocomposite drain shall be:
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[ insert approved materials that meet the project requirements. Geocomposites


should be designed on a project specific basis. Design criteria for flow capacity,
filtration, and permeability are summarized in the FHWA Geosynthetic, Design and
Construction Guidelines (1998). ]
OR
The geocomposite drain shall be a composite construction consisting of a supporting
structure or drainage core material surrounded by a geotextile. The geotextile shall
encapsulate the drainage core and prevent random soil intrusion into the drainage structure.
The drainage core material shall consist of a three dimensional polymeric material with a
structure that permits flow along the core laterally. The core structure shall also be
constructed to permit flow regardless of the water inlet surface. The drainage core shall
provide support to the geotextile. The core and fabric shall meet the minimum property
requirements listed in table S3.
A geotextile flap shall be provided along all drainage core edges. This flap shall be of
sufficient width for sealing the geotextile to the adjacent drainage structure edge to prevent
soil intrusion into the structure during and after installation. The geotextile shall cover the
full length of the core.
The geocomposite core shall be furnished with an approved method of constructing and
connecting with outlet pipes or weepholes as shown on the plans. Any fittings shall allow
entry of water from the core but prevent intrusion of backfill material into the core material.
Certification and Acceptance. The Contractor shall submit a manufacturer's certification that
the geosynthetic drainage composite supplied meets the design properties and respective
index criteria measured in full accordance with all test methods and standards specified. The
manufacturer's certification shall include a submittal package of documented test results that
confirm the design values. In case of dispute over validity of design values, the Engineer can
require the Contractor to supply design property test data from an approved laboratory, to
support the certified values submitted. Minimum average roll values, per ASTM D-4759,
shall be used for conformance.
Construction
Delivery, Storage, and Handling. The Contractor shall check the geosynthetic drainage
composite upon delivery to ensure that the proper material has been received. During all
periods of shipment and storage, the geosynthetic drainage composite shall be protected from
temperatures greater than 60o C, mud, dirt, and debris. Follow manufacturer's
recommendations in regards to protection from direct sunlight. At the time of installation,
the geosynthetic drainage composite shall be rejected if it has defects, tears, punctures, flaws,
deterioration, or damage incurred during manufacture, transportation, or storage. If approved
by the Engineer, torn or punctured sections may be removed or repaired. Any geosynthetic
drainage composite damaged during storage of installation shall be replaced by the
Contractor at no additional cost to the Owner.
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Table S3
Minimum Physical Property Criteria
For Geosynthetic Drainage Composites In
Reinforced Soil Slopes
PROPERTY

VALUE1

TEST METHOD

Composite
Flow Capacity2

ASTM D 4716

___

m2

/s width (min)

Geotextile
AOS3

ASTM D 4751

___ Max. Diameter (mm)

Permeability4

ASTM D 44915

______ m/s

Trapezoidal Tear
CLASS 26
CLASS 37

ASTM D 4533

Grab Strength
CLASS 26
CLASS 37

ASTM D 4632

Puncture
CLASS 26
CLASS 37

ASTM D 4833

Burst
CLASS 26
CLASS 37

ASTM D 3786

Notes:
1.

250 N
180 N
700 N
500 N
250 N
180 N
1300 kPa
950 KPa

Values are minimum unless noted otherwise. Use value in weaker principal direction, as applicable. All numeric values
represent minimum average roll values.

2.

The flow capacity requirements for the project shall be determined with consideration of design flow rate, compressive
load on the drainage material, and slope of drainage composite installation.

3.

Both a maximum and a minimum AOS may be specified. Sometimes a minimum diameter is used as a criteria for
improved clogging resistance. See FHWA Geosynthetic Design and Construction Guidelines (1995) for further
information.

4.

Permeability is project specific. A nominal coefficient of permeability may be determined by multiplying permittivity
value by nominal thickness. The k value of the geotextile should be greater than the k value of the soil.

5.

Standard Test Methods for Water Permeability (hydraulic conductivity) of Geotextiles by Permittivity.

6.

CLASS 2 geotextiles are recommended where construction conditions are unknown or where sharp angular aggregate is
used and a heavy degree of compaction (95% AASHTO T99) is specified.

7.

CLASS 3 geotextiles (from AASHTO M-288) may be used with smooth graded surfaces having no sharp angular
projections, no sharp aggregate is used, and compaction requirements are light (<95% AASHTO T99).

Placement. The soil surface against which the geosynthetic drainage composite is to be
placed shall be free of debris and inordinate irregularities that will prevent intimate contact
between the soil surface and the drain.
Seams. Edge seams shall be formed by utilizing the flap of geotextile extending from the
geocomposite's edge and lapping over the top of the geotextile of the adjacent course. The
geotextile flap shall be securely fastened to the adjacent fabric by means of plastic tape or
non-water-soluble construction adhesive, as recommended by the supplier. Where vertical
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splices are necessary at the end of a geocomposite roll or panel, a 200-mm-wide continuous
strip of geotextile may be placed, centered over the seam and continuously fastened on both
sides with plastic tape or non water soluble construction adhesive. As an alternative, rolls
of geocomposite drain material may be joined together by turning back the geotextile at the
roll edges and interlocking the cuspidations approximately 50 mm. For overlapping in this
manner, the geotextile shall be lapped over and tightly taped beyond the seam with tape or
adhesive. Interlocking of the core shall always be made with the upstream edge on top in the
direction of water flow. To prevent soil intrusion, all exposed edges of the geocomposite
drainage core shall be covered by tucking the geotextile flap over and behind the core edge.
Alternatively, a 300 mm wide strip of geotextile may be used in the same manner, fastening
it to the exposed fabric 200 mm in from the edge and fold the remaining flap over the core
edge.
Repairs. Should the geocomposite be damaged during installation by tearing or puncturing,
the damaged section shall be cut out and replaced completely or repaired by placing a piece
of geotextile that is large enough to cover the damaged area and provide a sufficient overlap
on all sides to fasten.
Soil Fill Placement. Structural backfill shall be placed immediately over the geocomposite
drain. Care shall be taken during the backfill operation not to damage the geotextile surface
of the drain. Care shall also be taken to avoid excessive settlement of the backfill material.
The geocomposite drain, once installed, shall not be exposed for more than seven days prior
to backfilling.
Method of Measurement
Measurement of geosynthetic drainage composite is on a square meter basis and will be
computed on the total area of geosynthetic drainage composite shown on the construction
drawings, exclusive of the area of drainage composite used in any overlaps. Overlaps,
connections, and outlets are incidental items.
Quantities of drainage composite material as shown on the plans may be increased or
decreased at the direction of the Engineer based on construction procedures and actual site
conditions. Such variations in quantity will not be considered as alterations in the details of
construction or a change in the character of work.
Basis of Payment
The accepted quantities of drainage composite material will be paid for per square meter in
place.
Payment will be made under:
Pay Item

Pay Unit

Geosynthetic Drainage Composite

square meter
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d.

Specification Guidelines for Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil Slope Systems


Description
Work shall consist of design, furnishing materials, and construction of geosynthetic
reinforced soil slope structure. Supply of geosynthetic reinforcement, drainage composite,
and erosion control materials, and site assistance are all to be furnished by the slope system
supplier.
Reinforced Slope System
Acceptable Suppliers - The following suppliers can provide agency approved system:
(1)
(2)
(3)
Materials. Only geosynthetic reinforcement, drainage composite, and erosion mat materials
approved by the contracting agency prior to project advertisement shall be utilized in the
slope construction. Geogrid Soil Reinforcement, Geotextile Soil Reinforcement, Drainage
Composite, and Geosynthetic Erosion Mat materials are specified under respective material
specifications.
Design Submittal. The Contractor shall submit six sets of detailed design calculations,
construction drawings, and shop drawings for approval within 30 days of authorization to
proceed and at least 60 days prior to the beginning of reinforced slope construction. The
calculations and drawings shall be prepared and sealed by a Professional Engineer, licensed
in the State. Submittal shall conform to agency requirements for RSS.
Material Submittals. The Contractor shall submit six sets of manufacturer's certification that
indicate the geosynthetic soil reinforcement, drainage composite, and geosynthetic erosion
mat meet the requirements set forth in the respective material specifications, for approval at
least 60 days prior to start of RSS.
Construction
(Should follow the specifications details in this chapter)
Method of Measurement
Measurement of geosynthetic RSS Systems is on a vertical square meter basis.
Payment shall include reinforced slope design and supply and installation of geosynthetic soil
reinforcement, reinforced soil fill, drainage composite, and geosynthetic erosion mat.
Excavation of any unsuitable materials and replacement with select fill, as directed by the
Engineer shall be paid under a separate pay item.

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Quantities of reinforced soil slope system as shown on the plans may be increased or
decreased at the direction of the Engineer based on construction procedures and actual site
conditions.
Basis of Payment
The accepted quantities of geosynthetic RSS system will be paid for per vertical square meter
in place.
Payment will be made under:
Pay Item

Pay Unit

Geosynthetic RSS System

Vertical square meter

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[ BLANK ]

-316-

CHAPTER 9
FIELD INSPECTION AND PERFORMANCE MONITORING
Construction of MSE and RSS systems is relatively simple and rapid. The construction sequence
consists mainly of preparing the subgrade, placing and compacting backfill in normal lift operations,
laying the reinforcing layer into position, and installing the facing elements (tensioning of the
reinforcement may also be required) or outward facing for RSS slopes. Special skills or equipment
are usually not required, and locally available labor can be used. Most material suppliers provide
training for construction of their systems. A checklist of general requirements for monitoring and
inspecting MSE and RSS systems is provided in table 15.
There are some special construction considerations that the designer, construction personnel, and
inspection team need to be aware of so that potential performance problems can be avoided. These
considerations relate to the type of system to be constructed, to specific site conditions, the backfill
material used and facing requirements. The following sections review items relating to:
!

Section 9.1, preconstruction reviews.

Section 9.2, prefabricated materials inspection.

Section 9.3, construction control.

Section 9.4, performance monitoring programs.

9.1

PRECONSTRUCTION REVIEWS

Prior to erection of the structure, personnel responsible for observing the field construction of the
retaining structure should become thoroughly familiar with the following items:
!

The plans and specifications.

The site conditions relevant to construction requirements.

Material requirements.

Construction sequences for the specific reinforcement system.

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Table 15. MSE/RSS field inspection checklist.

~ 1.

Read the specifications and become familiar with:


- material requirements
- construction procedures
- soil compaction procedures
- alignment tolerances
- acceptance/rejection criteria

~ 2.

Review the construction plans and become familiar with:


- construction sequence
- corrosion protections systems
- special placement to reduce damage
- soil compaction restrictions
- details for drainage requirements
- details for utility construction
- construction of slope face
- contractor's documents

~ 3.

Review material requirements and approval submittals.


Review construction sequence for the reinforcement system.

~ 4.

Check site conditions and foundation requirements. Observe:


- preparation of foundations
- facing pad construction (check level and alignment)
- site accessibility
- limits of excavation
- construction dewatering
- drainage features; seeps, adjacent streams, lakes, etc.

~ 5.

On site, check reinforcements and prefabricated units. Perform inspection of prefabricated elements
(i.e. casting yard) as required. Reject precast facing elements if:
- compressive strength < specification requirements
- imperfect molding
- honey-combing
- severe cracking, chipping or spalling
- color of finish variation
- out-of-tolerance dimensions
- misaligned connections

~ 6.
~ 7.

Check reinforcement labels to verify whether they match certification documents.


Observe materials in batch of reinforcements to make sure they are the same. Observe reinforcements
for flaws and nonuniformity.

~ 8.
~ 9.

Obtain test samples according to specification requirements from randomly selected reinforcements.
Observe construction to see that the contractor complies with specification requirements for installation.

~ 10. If possible, check reinforcements after aggregate or riprap placement for possible damage. This can

be done either by constructing a trial installation, or by removing a small section of aggregate or riprap
and observing the reinforcement after placement and compaction of the aggregate, at the beginning of
the project. If damage has occurred, contact the design engineer.

~ 11.

Check all reinforcement and prefabricated facing units against the initial approved shipment and collect
additional test samples.

~ 12. Monitor facing alignment:


-

adjacent facing panel joints (typically 19 mm 6 mm)


precast face panels: (6 mm per m horizontal and vertical; 4 mm per m overall vertical)
wrapped face walls: (15 mm per m horizontal and vertical; 8 mm overall vertical)
line and grade

-318-

a.

Plans and Specifications


Specification requirements for MSE and RSS are reviewed in chapter 8. The owner's field
representatives should carefully read the specification requirements for the specific type of
system to be constructed, with special attention given to material requirements, construction
procedures, soil compaction procedures, alignment tolerances, and acceptance/rejection
criteria. Plans should be reviewed and unique and complex project details identified and
reviewed with the designer and contractor, if possible. Special attention should be given to
the construction sequence, corrosion protection systems for metallic reinforcement, special
placement requirements to reduce construction damage for polymeric reinforcement, soil
compaction restrictions, details for drainage requirements and utility construction, and
construction of the outward slope. The contractor's documents should be checked to make
sure that the latest issue of the approved plans, specifications, and contract documents are
being used.

b.

Review of Site Conditions and Foundation Requirements


The site conditions should be reviewed to determine if there will be any special construction
procedures required for preparation of the foundations, site accessibility, excavation for
obtaining the required reinforcement length, and construction dewatering and other drainage
features.
Foundation preparation involves the removal of unsuitable materials from the area to be
occupied by the retaining structure including all organic matter, vegetation, and slide debris,
if any. This is most important in the facing area to reduce facing system movements and,
therefore, to aid in maintaining facing alignment along the length of the structure. The field
personnel should review the borings to determine the anticipated extent of the removal
required.
Where construction of reinforced fill will require a side slope cut, a temporary earth support
system may be required to maintain stability. The contractor's method and design should be
reviewed with respect to safety and the influence of its performance on adjacent structures.
Caution is also advised for excavation of utilities or removal of temporary bracing or
sheeting in front of the completed MSE structures. Loss of ground from these activities
could result in settlement and lateral displacement of the retaining structure.
The groundwater level found in the site investigation should be reviewed along with levels
of any nearby bodies of water that might affect drainage requirements. Slopes into which a
cut is to be made should be carefully observed, especially following periods of precipitation,
for any signs of seeping water (often missed in borings). Construction dewatering operations
should be required for any excavations performed below the water table to prevent a
reduction in shear strength due to hydrostatic water pressure.
MSE/RSS structures should be designed to permit drainage of any seepage or trapped
groundwater in the retained soil. If water levels intersect the structure, it is also likely that
a drainage structure behind and beneath the wall will be required. Surface water infiltration
-319-

into the retained fill and reinforced fill should be minimized by providing an impermeable
cap and adequate slopes to nearby surface drain pipes or paved ditches with outlets to storm
sewers or to natural drains.
Internal drainage of the reinforced fill can be attained by use of a free-draining granular
material that is free of fines (material passing No. 200 sieve should be less than 5 percent).
Because of its high permeability, this type of fill will prevent retention of any water in the
soil fill as long as a drainage outlet is available. Arrangement is generally provided for
drainage to the base of the fill as shown on figures 42 and 71, to prevent water exiting the
face of the wall and causing erosion and/or face stains. The drains will, of course, require
suitable outlets for discharge of seepage away from the reinforced soil structure. Care should
be taken to avoid creating planes of weakness within the structure with drainage layers.

9.2

PREFABRICATED MATERIALS INSPECTION

Material components should be examined at the casting yard (for systems with precast elements) and
on site. Typical casting operations are shown on figure 77. Material acceptance should be based on
a combination of material testing, certification, and visual observations.
When delivered to the project site, the inspector should carefully inspect all material (precast facing
elements, reinforcing elements, bearing pads, facing joint materials, and reinforced backfill). On
site, all system components should be satisfactorily stored and handled to avoid damage. The
material supplier's construction manual should contain additional information on this matter.
a.

Precast Concrete Elements. At the casting yard, the inspector should assure the facing
elements are being fabricated in accordance with the agency's standard specifications. For
example, precast concrete facing panels should be cast on a flat surface. To minimize
corrosion, it is especially important that coil embeds, tie strip guides, and other connection
devices do not contact or be attached to the facing element reinforcing steel.
Facing elements delivered to the project site should be examined prior to erection. Panels
should be rejected on the basis of the following deficiencies or defects:
!Insufficient compressive strength.
!Imperfect molding.
!Honey-combing.
!Severe cracking, chipping, or spalling.
!Color of finish variation on the front face.

-320-

Figure 77.

Casting yard for precast facing elements.


-321-

!Out-of-tolerance dimensions.
!Misalignment of connections.
The following maximum facing element dimension tolerances are usually specified for
precast concrete:
!Overall dimensions - 13 mm (-inch).
!Connection device locations

25 mm (1-inch).

!Element squareness - 13 mm (-inch) difference between diagonals.


!Surface finish

2 mm in 1 m (c-inch in 5 ft) (smooth surface).

!Surface finish

5 mm in 1 m (5/16-inch in 5 ft) (textured surface)

In cases where repair to damaged facing elements is possible, it should be accomplished to


the satisfaction of the inspector.
For drycast modular blocks, it is essential that compressive strengths and water absorption
by carefully checked on a lot basis. The following dimensional tolerances are usually
specified:
!Overall dimensions - 3.2 mm (c-inch)
!Height of each block
b.

1.6 mm (1/16-inch)

Reinforcing Elements. Reinforcing elements (strips, mesh, sheets) should arrive at the
project site securely bundled or packaged to avoid damage (see figure 78). These materials
are available in a variety of types, configurations, and sizes (gauge, length, product styles),
and even a simple structure may have different reinforcement elements at different locations.
The inspector should verify that the material is properly identified and check the specified
designation (AASHTO, ASTM, or agency specifications). Material verification is especially
important for geotextiles and geogrids where many product styles look similar but have
different properties. Mesh reinforcement should be checked for gross area and length, width,
and spacing of transverse members. For strip reinforcements, the length and thickness
should be checked. Geogrids or geotextile samples should be sent to the laboratory for
verification testing.
Protective coatings, i.e., galvanization (thickness 610 gm/m) or epoxy (thickness 18 mils
[457 m]), should be verified by certification or agency conducted tests and checked for
defects.

-322-

Figure 78.

Inspect reinforcing elements.

-323-

c.

Facing Joint Materials. Bearing pads (cork, neoprene, SBR rubber), joint filler and joint
cover (geotextile) should be properly packaged to minimize damage in unloading and
handling. For example, polymer filler material and geotextiles must be protected from
sunlight during storage.
Although these items are often considered as miscellaneous, it is important for the inspector
to recognize that use of the wrong material or its incorrect placement can result in significant
structure distress.

d.

Reinforced Backfill. The backfill in MSE/RSS structures is the key element in satisfactory
performance. Both use of the appropriate material and its correct placement are important
properties. Reinforced backfill is normally specified to meet certain gradation, plasticity,
soundness, and electrochemical requirements. Depending on the type of contract, tests to
ensure compliance may be performed by either the contractor or the owner. The tests
conducted prior to construction and periodically during construction for quality assurance
form the basis for approval. During construction these tests include, gradation and plasticity
index testing at the rate of one test per 1500 m3 (2000 yd3) of material placed and whenever
the appearance and behavior of the backfill changes noticeably.

9.3

CONSTRUCTION CONTROL

Each of the steps in the sequential construction of MSE and RSS systems is controlled by certain
method requirements and tolerances. Construction manuals for proprietary MSE systems should be
obtained from the contractor to provide guidance during construction monitoring and inspection.
A detailed description of general construction requirements follows with requirements that apply to
RSS systems noted.
a.

Leveling Pad
A concrete leveling pad should have minimum dimensions of 150 mm (6 inches) thick by
300 mm (1 ft) wide and should have a minimum 13.8 MPa (3,000 psi) compressive strength.
Cast-in-place pads should cure a minimum of 12 hours before facing panels are placed.
Careful inspection of the leveling pad to assure correct line, grade, and offset is important.
A vertical tolerance of 3 mm (c-inch) to the design elevation is recommended. If the
leveling pad is not at the correct elevation, the top of the wall will not be at the correct
elevation. An improperly placed leveling pad can result in subsequent panel misalignment,
cracking, and spalling. Full height precast facing elements may require a larger leveling pad
to maintain alignment and provide temporary foundation support. Gravel pads of suitable
dimensions may be used with modular block wall construction. Typical installations are
shown on figure 79.

-324-

Figure 79.

Leveling pads: a) concrete pad; b) compacted gravel pad.

-325-

b.

Erection of Facing Elements


Precast facing panels are purposely set at a slight backward batter (toward the reinforced fill)
in order to assure correct final vertical alignment after backfill placement as shown on figure
80. Minor outward movement of the facing elements from wall fill placement and
compaction cannot be avoided and is expected as the interaction between the reinforcement
and reinforced backfill occurs. Most systems with segmental precast panels also have some
form of construction alignment dowels between adjacent elements that aid in proper erection.
Typical backward batter for segmental precast panels is 20 mm per meter (-inch per foot)
of panel height.
Full height precast panels as shown on figure 81 are more susceptible to misalignment
difficulties than segmental panels. When using full-height panels, the construction procedure
should be carefully controlled to maintain tolerances. Special construction procedures such
as additional bracing and larger face panel batter may be necessary.
First Row of Facing Elements. Setting the first row of facing elements is a key detail as
shown on figure 82. Construction should always begin adjacent to any existing structure and
proceed toward the open end of the wall. The panels should be set directly on the concrete
leveling pad. Horizontal joint material or wooden shims should not be permitted between
the first course of panels and the leveling pad. Temporary wood wedges may be used
between the first course of panels and the leveling pad to set panel batter, but they must be
removed during subsequent construction. Some additional important details are:
!For segmental panel walls, panel spacing bars, which set the horizontal spacing between
panels, should be used so that subsequent panel rows will fit correctly.
!The first row of panels must be continuously braced until several layers of reinforcements
and backfills have been placed. Adjacent panels should be clamped together to prevent
individual panel displacement.
!After setting the battering the first row of panels, horizontal alignment should be visually
checked with survey instruments or with a stringline.
!When using full-height panels, initial bracing alignment and clamping are even more
critical because small misalignments cannot be easily corrected as construction continues.
!Most MSE systems use a variety of panel types on the same project to accommodate
geometric and design requirements (geometric shape, size, finish, connection points). The
facing element types must be checked to make sure that they are installed exactly as shown
on the plans.

-326-

Figure 80.

Checking facing element batter and alignment.

-327-

Figure 81.

Full height facing panels require special alignment care.

-328-

Figure 82.

Setting first row of precast facing elements.

-329-

c.

Reinforced Fill Placement, Compaction


Moisture and density control is imperative for construction of MSE and RSS systems. Even
when using high-quality granular materials, problems can occur if compaction control is not
exercised. Reinforced wall fill material should be placed and compacted at or within 2
percent dry of the optimum moisture content. If the reinforced fill is free draining with less
than 5 percent passing a No. 200 U.S. Sieve, water content of the fill may be within 3
percentage points of the optimum. Placement moisture content can have a significant effect
on reinforcement-soil interaction. Moisture content wet of optimum makes it increasingly
difficult to maintain an acceptable facing alignment, especially if the fines content is high.
Moisture contents that are too dry could result in significant settlement during periods of
precipitation.
A density of 95 percent of T-99 maximum value is recommended for retaining walls and
slopes, and 100 percent of T-99 is recommended for abutments and walls or slopes
supporting structural foundations abutments. A procedural specification is preferable where
a significant percentage of coarse material, generally 30 percent or greater retained on the 19
mm (-inch) sieve, prevents the use of the AASHTO T-99 or T-180 test methods. In this
situation, typically three to five passes with conventional vibratory roller compaction
equipment is adequate to attain the maximum practical density. The actual requirements
should be determined based on field trials.
Reinforced backfill should be dumped onto or parallel to the rear and middle of the
reinforcements and bladed toward the front face as shown on figure 83. At no time should
any construction equipment be in direct contact with the reinforcements because protective
coatings and reinforcements can be damaged. Soil layers should be compacted up to or even
slightly above the elevation of each level of reinforcement connections prior to placing that
layer of reinforcing elements.
Compaction Equipment - With the exception of the 1-m zone directly behind the facing
elements or slope face, large, smooth-drum, vibratory rollers should generally be used to
obtain the desired compaction as shown on figure 84a. Sheepsfoot rollers should not be
permitted because of possible damage to the reinforcements. When compacting uniform
medium to fine sands (in excess of 60 percent passing a No. 40 sieve) use a smooth-drum
static roller or lightweight (walk behind) vibratory roller. The use of large vibratory
compaction equipment with this type of backfill material will make wall alignment control
difficult.
Within 1 m (3 ft) of the wall or slope face, use small single or double drum, walk-behind
vibratory rollers or vibratory plate compactors as shown on figure 84b. Placement of the
reinforced backfill near the front should not lag behind the remainder of the structure by
more than one lift. Poor fill placement and compaction in this area has in some cases
resulted in a chimney-shaped vertical void immediately behind the facing elements. Within
this 1 m (3 ft ) zone, quality control should be maintained by a methods specification such
as three passes of a light drum compactor. Higher quality fill is sometimes used in this zone
so that the desired properties can be achieved with less compactive effort. Excessive
-330-

Figure 83.

Placement of reinforced backfill.


-331-

Figure 84.

Compaction equipment showing: a) large equipment permitted away from


face; and b) lightweight equipment within 1 m of the face.
-332-

compactive effort or use of too heavy equipment near the wall face could result in excessive
face panel movement (modular panels) or structural damage (full-height, precast panels), and
overstressing of reinforcement layers.
Inconsistent compaction and undercompaction caused by insufficient compactive effort or
allowing the contractor to "compact" backfill with trucks and dozers will lead to gross
misalignments and settlement problems and should not be permitted. Flooding of the backfill
to facilitate compaction should not be permitted. Compaction control testing of the
reinforced backfill should be performed on a regular basis during the entire construction
project. A minimum frequency of one test within the reinforced soil zone per every 1.5 m
(5 ft) of wall height for every 30 m (100 ft) of wall is recommended.
d.

Placement of Reinforcing Elements


Reinforcing elements for MSE and RSS systems should be installed in strict compliance with
spacing and length requirements shown on the plans. Reinforcements should generally be
placed perpendicular to the back of the facing panel. In specific situations, abutments and
curved walls, for example, it may be permissible to skew the reinforcements from their
design location in either the horizontal or vertical direction. In all cases, overlapping layers
of reinforcements should be separated by a 75 mm (3-inch) minimum thickness of fill.
Curved walls create special problems with MSE panel and reinforcement details. Different
placement procedures are generally required for convex and concave curves. For reinforced
fill systems with precast panels, joints will either be further closed or opened by normal
facing movements depending on whether the curve is concave or convex.
Other difficulties arise when constructing MSE/RSS structures around deep foundation
elements or drainage structures. For deep foundations either drive piles prior to face
construction or use hollow sleeves at proposed pile locations during reinforced fill erection.
The latter method is generally preferred. Predrilling for pile installation through the
reinforced soil structure between reinforcements can also be performed but is risky and may
damage reinforcing elements.
Connections. Each MSE system has a unique facing connection detail. Several types of
connections are shown on figure 85. All connections must be made in accordance with the
manufacturer's recommendations. For example on Reinforced Earth structures bolts must
fit and be located between tie strips, be perpendicular to the steel surfaces, and be seated
flush against the flange to have full bearing of the bolt head. Nuts are to be securely
tightened.
Flexible reinforcements, such as geotextiles and geogrids, usually require pretensioning to
remove any slack in the reinforcement or in the panel. The tension is then maintained by
staking or by placing fill during tensioning. Tensioning and staking will reduce subsequent
horizontal movements of the panel as the wall fill is placed.

-333-

Figure 85.

Facing connection examples.

-334-

e.

Placement of Subsequent Facing Courses (Segmental Facings)


Throughout construction of segmental panel walls, facing panels should only be set at grade.
Placement of a panel on top of one not completely backfilled should not be permitted.
Alignment Tolerances. The key to a satisfactory end product is maintaining reasonable
horizontal and vertical alignments during construction. Generally, the degree of difficulty
in maintaining vertical and horizontal alignment increases as the vertical distance between
reinforcement layers increases.
The following alignment tolerances are recommended:
!Adjacent facing panel joint gaps (all reinforcements) - 19 mm 6 mm (-inch -inch)
.
!Precast face panel (all reinforcements) - 6 mm per m (horizontal and vertical directions)
(d-inch per 5 ft).
!Wrapped face walls and slopes (e.g., welded wire or geosynthetic facing) - 15 mm per m
(horizontal and vertical directions) (1-inch per 5 ft).
!Wrapped face walls and slopes (e.g., welded wire or geosynthetic facing) overall vertical 8 mm per m (-inch per 5 ft).
!Wrapped face walls and slopes (e.g., welded wire or geosynthetic facing) bulging - 25 to
50 mm (1 to 2 inches) maximum.
!Reinforcement placement elevations - 25 mm (1-inch) of connection elevation.
Failure to attain these tolerances when following suggested construction practices indicates
that changes in the contractor's procedures are necessary. These might include changes in
reinforced backfill placement and compaction techniques, construction equipment, and
facing panel batter.
Facing elements that are out of alignment should not be pulled back into place because this
may damage the panels and reinforcements and, hence, weaken the system. Appropriate
measures to correct an alignment problem are the removal of reinforced fill and reinforcing
elements, followed by the resetting of the panels. Decisions to reject structure sections that
are out of alignment should be made rapidly because panel resetting and reinforced fill
handling are time consuming and expensive. Occasionally, lower modular panels may
experience some movement after several lifts of panels have been placed. This could be due
to foundation settlement, excess moisture content following heavy rain, or excessive
compaction. Construction should be stopped immediately and the situation evaluated by
qualified geotechnical specialists when these "post erection" deformations occur.

-335-

Improper horizontal and vertical joint openings can result in face panel misalignment, and
cracking and spalling due to point stresses. Wedging of stones or concrete pieces to level
face panels should not be permitted. All material suppliers use bearing pads on horizontal
joints between segmental facing panels to prevent point stresses (cork, neoprene, or rubber
are typically used). These materials should be installed in strict accordance with the plans
and specifications, especially with regard to thickness and quantity. Other joint materials are
used to prevent point stresses and erosion of fill through the facing joints (synthetic foam and
geotextiles details are typically used). Excessively large panel joint spacings or joint
openings that are highly variable result in a very unattractive end product. Bearing pads and
geotextile joint covers are shown on figure 86.
Wooden wedges shown on figure 82 placed during erection to aid in alignment should
remain in place until the third layer of modular panels are set, at which time the bottom layer
of wedges should be removed. Each succeeding layer of wedges should be removed as the
succeeding panel layer is placed. When the wall is completed, all temporary wedges should
be removed.
At the completion of each day's work, the contractor should grade the wall fill away from the
face and lightly compact the surface to reduce the infiltration of surface water from
precipitation. At the beginning of the next day's work, the contractor should scarify the
backfill surface.
Table 16 gives a summary of several out-of-tolerance conditions and their possible causes.

-336-

Figure 86.

Geotextile joint cover and neoprene pads.

-337-

Table 16. Out-of-Tolerance conditions and possible causes.


MSEW structures are to be erected in strict compliance with the structural and aesthetic requirements
of the plans, specifications, and contract documents. The desired results can generally be achieved
through the use of quality materials, correct construction/erection procedures, and proper inspection.
However, there may be occasions when dimensional tolerances and/or aesthetic limits are exceeded.
Corrective measures should quickly be taken to bring the work within acceptable limits.
Presented below are several out-of-tolerance conditions and their possible causes.
POSSIBLE CAUSE

CONDITION
1.

Distress in wall:

1. a.

Foundation (subgrade) material too


soft or wet for proper bearing. Fill
material of poor quality or not
properly compacted.

a.Differential settlement or low spot in


wall.
b.

Overall wall leaning beyond


vertical alignment tolerance.

c.Panel contact,
spalling/chipping.

resulting

in

2.

First panel course difficult


(impossible) to set and/or maintain
level. Panel-to-panel contact resulting
in spalling and/or chipping.

2. a.

Leveling pad not within tolerance.

3.

Wall out of vertical alignment


tolerance (plumbness), or leaning out.

3. a.

Panel not battered sufficiently.

(cont'd.)
-338-

b.

Oversized backfill and/or compaction


equipment working within 1 m (3 ft)
zone of back of wall facing panels.

c.

Backfill material placed wet of


optimum moisture content. Backfill
contains excessive fine materials
(beyond the specifications for percent
of materials passing a No. 200 sieve).

d.

Backfill material pushed against back


of facing panel before being
compacted above reinforcing
elements.

POSSIBLE CAUSE

CONDITION

4.

5.

Wall out of vertical alignment


tolerance (plumbness) or leaning in.

Wall out of horizontal alignment


tolerance, or bulging.

-339-

e.

Excessive or vibratory compaction of


uniform, medium-fine sand (more than
60 percent passing a No. 40 sieve).

f.

Backfill material dumped close to free


end of reinforcing elements, then
spread toward back of wall, causing
displacement of reinforcements and
pushing panel out.

g.

Shoulder wedges not seated securely.

h.

Shoulder clamps not tight.

i.

Slack in reinforcement to facing


connections.

j.

Inconsistent tensioning of geosynthetic


reinforcement to MBW unit.

k.

Localized over-compaction adjacent to


MBW unit.

4. a.

Excessive batter set in panels for


select granular backfill material being
used.

b.

Inadequate compaction of backfill.

c.

Possible bearing capacity failure.

d.

MBW unit manufactured out of


vertical tolerance.

5. a.

See Causes 3c, 3d, 3e, 3j, 3k. Backfill


saturated by heavy rain or improper
grading of backfill after each day's
operations.

(cont'd.)
CONDITION
6.

POSSIBLE CAUSE

Panels do not fit properly in their


intended locations.

6. a.

b.

Panel cast beyond tolerances.

c.

Failure to use spacer bar.

7. a.
7.

9.4

Large variations in movement of


adjacent panels.

Panels are not level. Differential


settlement (see Cause 1).

Backfill material not uniform.

b.

Backfill compaction not uniform.

c.

Inconsistent setting of facing panels

PERFORMANCE MONITORING PROGRAMS

Since MSE technology is well established, the need for monitoring programs should be limited to
cases in which new features or materials have been incorporated in the design, substantial post
construction settlements are anticipated and/or construction rates require control and where
degradation/corrosion rates of reinforcements require monitoring because of the use of marginal fills
or anticipated changes in the in situ regime. Under the outlined conditions the monitoring can be
used to:
!

Confirm design stress levels and monitor safety during construction.

Allow construction procedures to be modified for safety or economy.

Control construction rates.

Enhance knowledge of the behavior of MSEW or RSS structures to provide a base reference
for future designs, with the possibility of improving design procedures and/or reducing costs.

Provide insight into maintenance requirements, by long-term performance monitoring.

Degradation/Corrosion monitoring schemes are fully outlines in the companion Corrosion/


Degradation document.
a.

Purpose of Monitoring Program


The first step in planning a monitoring program is to define the purpose of the measurements.
Every instrument on a project should be selected and placed to assist in answering a specific
question.
-340-

If there is no question, there should be no instrumentation. Both the questions that need to
be answered and the clear purpose of the instrumentation in answering those questions
should be established.
The most significant parameters of interest should be selected, with care taken to identify
secondary parameters that should be measured if they may influence primary parameters.
For all structures, important parameters that should be considered include:
!Horizontal movements of the face (for MSEW structures).
!Vertical movements of the surface of the overall structure.
!Local movements or deterioration of the facing elements.
!Drainage behavior of the backfill.
!Performance of any structure supported by the reinforced soil, such as approach slabs for
bridge abutments or footings.
!Horizontal movements within the overall structure.
!Vertical movements within the overall structure.
!Lateral earth pressure at the back of facing elements.
!Vertical stress distribution at the base of the structure.
!Stresses in the reinforcement, with special attention to the magnitude and location of the
maximum stress.
!Stress distribution in the reinforcement due to surcharge loads.
!Relationship between settlement and stress-strain distribution.
!Stress relaxation in the reinforcement with time.
!Total horizontal stress within the backfill and at the back of the reinforced wall section.
!Aging condition of reinforcement such as corrosion losses or degradation of polymeric
reinforcements.
!Pore pressure response below structure.
!Temperature which often is a cause of real changes in other parameters, and also may affect
instrument readings.
-341-

!Rainfall which often is a cause of real changes in other parameters.


!Barometric pressure, which may affect readings of earth pressure and pore pressure
measuring instruments.
The characteristics of the subsurface, backfill material, reinforcement, and facing elements
in relation to their effects on the behavior of the structure must be assessed prior to
developing the instrumentation program. It should be remembered that foundation
settlement will affect stress distribution within the structure. Also, the stiffness of the
reinforcement will affect the anticipated lateral stress conditions within the retained soil
mass.
b.

Limited Monitoring Program


Limited observations and monitoring will typically include:
!Horizontal movements of the face (for MSEW structures).
!Vertical movements of the surface of the overall structure.
!Local movements or deterioration of the facing elements.
!Performance of any structure supported by the reinforced soil, such as approach slabs for
bridge abutments or footings.
Horizontal and vertical movements can be monitored by surveying methods, using suitable
measuring points on the retaining wall facing elements or on the pavement or surface of the
retained soil. Permanent benchmarks are required for vertical control. For horizontal
control, one horizontal control station should be provided at each end of the structure.
The maximum lateral movement of the wall face during construction is anticipated to be on
the order of H/250 for rigid reinforcement and H/75 for flexible reinforcement. Tilting due
to differential lateral movement from the bottom to the top of the wall would be anticipated
to be less than 4 mm per m (-inch per 5 ft) of wall height for either system.
Postconstruction horizontal movements are anticipated to be very small. Post construction
vertical movements should be estimated from foundation settlement analyses, and
measurements of actual foundation settlement during and after construction should be made.

c.

Comprehensive Monitoring Program


Comprehensive studies involve monitoring of surface behavior as well as internal behavior
of the reinforced soil. A comprehensive program may involve the measurement of nearly all
of the parameters enumerated above and the prediction of the magnitude of each parameter
at working stress to establish the range of accuracy for each instrument.

-342-

Whenever measurements are made for construction control or safety purposes, or when used
to support less conservative designs, a predetermination of warning levels should be made.
An action plan must be established, including notification of key personnel and design
alternatives so that remedial action can be discussed or implemented at any time.
A comprehensive program may involve all or some of the following key purposes:
!Deflection monitoring to establish gross structure performance and as an indicator of the
location and magnitude of potential local distress to be more fully investigated.
!Structural performance monitoring to primarily establish tensile stress levels in the
reinforcement and or connections. A second type of structural performance monitoring
would measure or establish degradation rates of the reinforcements.
!Pullout resistance proof testing to establish the level of pullout resistance within a
reinforced mass as a function of depth and elongation.
The possible instruments for monitoring are outlined in Table 17.
d.

Program Implementation
Selection of instrument locations involves three steps. First, sections containing unique
design features are identified. For example, sections with surcharge or sections with the
highest stress. Appropriate instrumentation is located at these sections. Second, a selection
is made of cross sections where predicted behavior is considered representative of behavior
as a whole. These cross sections are then regarded as primary instrumented sections, and
instruments are located to provide comprehensive performance data. There should be at least
two "primary instrumented sections." Third, because the selection of representative zones
may not be representative of all points in the structure, simple instrumentation should be
installed at a number of "secondary instrumented sections" to serve as indices of comparative
behavior. For example, surveying the face of the wall in secondary cross sections would
examine whether comprehensive survey and inclinometer measurements at primary sections
are representative of the behavior of the wall.
Access to instrumentation locations and considerations for survivability during construction
are also important. Locations should be selected, when possible, to provide cross checks
between instrument types. For example, when multipoint extensometers (multiple telltales)
are installed on reinforcement to provide indications of global (macro) strains, and strain
gauges are installed to monitor local (micro) strains, strain gauges should be located midway
between adjacent extensometer attachment points.
Most instruments measure conditions at a point. In most cases, however, parameters are of
interest over an entire section of the structure. Therefore, a large number of measurement
points may be required to evaluate such parameters as distribution of stresses in the

-343-

Table 17. Possible instruments for monitoring reinforced soil structures.


PARAMETERS

POSSIBLE INSTRUMENTS

Horizontal movements of face

Visual observation
Surveying methods
Horizontal control stations
Tiltmeters

Vertical movements of overall structure

Visual observation
Surveying methods
Benchmarks
Tiltmeters

Local movements or deterioration of facing


elements

Visual observation
Crack gauges

Drainage behavior of backfill

Visual observation at outflow points


Open standpipe piezometers

Horizontal
structure

movements

within

overall

Surveying methods (e.g. transit)


Horizontal control stations
Probe extensometers
Fixed embankment extensometers
Inclinometers
Tiltmeters

Vertical movements within overall structure

Surveying methods
Benchmarks
Probe extensometers
Horizontal inclinometers
Liquid level gauges

Performance of structure supported by


reinforced soil

Numerous possible instruments (depends on


details of structure)

Lateral earth pressure at the back of facing


elements

Earth pressure cells


Strain gauges at connections
Load cells at connections

Stress distribution at base of structure

Earth pressure cells


-344-

(cont'd)
PARAMETERS

POSSIBLE INSTRUMENTS

Stress in reinforcement

Resistance strain gauges


Induction coil gauges
Hydraulic strain gauges
Vibrating wire strain gauges
Multiple telltales

Stress distribution in reinforcement due to


surcharge loads

Same instruments
reinforcement

Relationship between settlement and stressstrain distribution

Same instruments as for:

vertical movements of surface of


overall structure

vertical movements within mass of


overall structure

stress in reinforcement
Earth pressure cells

Stress relaxation in reinforcement

Same instruments
reinforcement

Total stress within backfill and at back of


reinforced wall section

Earth pressure cells

Pore pressure response below structures

Open standpipe piezometers


Pneumatic piezometers
Vibrating wire piezometers

Temperature

Ambient temperature record


Thermocouples
Thermistors
Resistance temperature devices
Frost gauges

Rainfall

Rainfall gauge

Barometric pressure

Barometric pressure gauge

-345-

as

as

for

for

stress

stress

in

in

reinforcement and stress levels below the retaining structure. For example, accurate location
of the locus of the maximum stress in the reinforced soil mass will require a significant
number of gauge points, usually spaced on the order of 30 cm apart in the critical zone.
Reduction in the number of gauge points will make interpretation difficult, if not impossible,
and may compromise the objectives of the program.
In preparing the installation plan, consideration should be given to the compatibility of the
installation schedule and the construction schedule. If possible, the construction contractor
should be consulted concerning details that might affect his operation or schedule.
Step-by-step installation procedures should be prepared well in advance of scheduled
installation dates for installing all instruments. Detailed guidelines for choosing instrument
types, locations and installation procedures are given in FHWA RD89-043.
e.

Data Interpretation
Monitoring programs have failed because the data generated was never used. If there is a
clear sense of purpose for a monitoring program, the method of data interpretation will be
guided by that sense of purpose. Without a purpose, there can be no interpretation.
When collecting data during the construction phase, communication channels between design
and field personnel should remain open so that discussions can be held between design
engineers who planned the monitoring program and field engineers who provide the data.
Early data interpretation steps should have already been taken, including evaluation of data,
to determine reading correctness and also to detect changes requiring immediate action. The
essence of subsequent data interpretation steps is to correlate the instrument readings with
other factors (cause and effect relationships) and to study the deviation of the readings from
the predicted behavior.
After each set of data has been interpreted, conclusions should be reported in the form of an
interim monitoring report and submitted to personnel responsible for implementation of
action. The report should include updated summary plots, a brief commentary that draws
attention to all significant changes that have occurred in the measured parameters since the
previous interim monitoring report, probable causes of these changes, and recommended
action.
A final report is often prepared to document key aspects of the monitoring program and to
support any remedial actions. The report also forms a valuable bank of experience and
should be distributed to the owner and design consultant so that any lessons may be
incorporated into subsequent designs.

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REFERENCES
1.

Elias V. "Corrosion/Durability of Soil Reinforced Structures" FHWA RD 89-186.


Washington D.C., 1989, 105 p.

2.

Simac, M.R., Bathhurst R.J. Berg R.R., Lothspeich S.E. "Design Manual for Segmental
Retaining Walls" National Concrete Masonry Association. Herndon, VA, 1993, 336 p.

3.

Berg, R.R., Chouery-Curtis, V.E., and Watson, C.H., "Critical Failure Planes in Analysis of
Reinforced Slopes," Proceedings of Geosynthetics '89, Volume 1, San Diego, February,
1989.

4.

Wright, S.G. and Duncan, J.M., "Limit Equilibrium Stability Analyses for Reinforced
Slopes," presented at the Transportation Research Board 70th Annual Meeting, January 1317, Washington D.C., 1990.

5.

Jurgenson, L., "The Shearing Resistance of Soils", Journal of the Boston Society of Civil
Engineers, Also in Contribution to Soil Mechanics, 1925-1940, Boston Society of Civil
Engineers, 1934, pp 134-217.

6.

Silvestri, V., "The Bearing Capacity of Dykes and Fills Founded on Soft Soils of Limited
Thickness", Canadian Geotechnical Journal, Volume 20, Number 3, 1983, pp. 428-436.

7.

Bonarparte, R., Holtz, R.D. and Giroud, J.P., "Soil Reinforcement Design Using Geotextiles
and Geogrids", Geotextile Testing and The Design Engineer, ASTM, Special Technical
Publication 952, 1987.

8.

Yarger and Barne "Montana Department of Transportation's Introduction to Geogrid Use for
Steepened Embankment Design", Proceedings of Geosynthetics '93, Vancouver, B.C.,
Canada, 1993.

9.

Zornberg, Barrows, Christopher and Wayne "Construction and Instrumentation of a Highway


Slope Reinforced with High-Strength Geotextiles", Proceedings of Geosynthetics '95,
Nashville, Tenn., 1995.

10.

"Reinforced Soil Highway Slopes" Tensar Technical Note. Tensar Earth


Technologies, Atlanta, GA, 1990.

11.

Wayne and Wilcosky "An innovative use of a nonwoven geotextile in the repair of
Pennsylvania State Route 54", Geotechnical Fabrics Report, Volume 13, Number 2, 1995.

12.

Werner, G. and Resl, S., "Stability Mechanisms in Geotextile Reinforced Earth-Structures",


Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Geotextiles, Vienna, Austria, Volume
II, 1986, pp. 465-470.

-347-

13.

Ruegger, R., "Geotextile Reinforced Soil Structures on which Vegetation can be


Established", Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Geotextiles, Vienna,
Austria, Volume II, 1986, pp. 453-458.

14.

Leshchinsky, E. and Boedeker, R.H., "Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil Structures", Journal of


Geotechnical Engineering, ASCE, Volume 115, Number 10, 1989, pp. 1459-1478.

15.

Jewell, R.A., "Revised Design Charts for Steep Reinforced Slopes, Reinforced
Embankments: Theory and Practice in the British Isles", Thomas Telford, London, U.K.,
1990.

16.

Silvestri, V. " The Bearing Capacity of Dikes and Fills Founded on Soft Soils of Limited
Thickness" Canadian Geotechnical Journal Vol. 20 No. 3, 1983.

17.

Chen, Y-H and G.K. Cotton, "Design of Roadside Channels with Flexible Linings", FHWAIP-87-7, HEC15, PB89-122584, 1987.

18.

Chen, Y-H and Anderson, B.A., Final Report - "Development of a Methodology for
Estimating Embankment Damage Due to Flood Overtopping", DTFH61-82-00104, FHWA,
Washington D.C., 1986.

19.

Collin, J.G., "Controlling Surficial Stability Problems on Reinforced Steepened Slopes"


Geotechnical Fabrics Report IFAI, 1996.

20.

Cheney, R, and Chassie, R., "Soils and Foundations Workshop Reference Manual" FHWA,
NH1-00-045, 2000.

21.

Elias, V., Salman, A., Juran, I., Pearce, E., Lu, S., Testing Protocols for Oxidation and
Hydrolysis of Geosynthetics, FHWA RD-97-144, Washington, D.C., 1999.

22.

Bathurst, R.J., Walters, D., Vlachopoulos, N., Burgess P., and Allan, T.H., Fullscale Testing
of Geosynthetic Reinforced Walls, Proceedings of GeoDenver 2000. ASCE Special
Publication, 2000.

23.

Koerner, J., Soong, T-Y, and Koerner, R. M., Earth Retaining Wall Costs in the USA, GRI
Report #20, Geosynthetics Institute, Folsom, PA, 1998.

24.

Sotir, R.B. and Christopher, B.R., Soil Bioengineering and Geosynthetics for Slope
Stabilization, Proceedings, Geosynthetics Asia 2000, Selangor Daruf, Ehsan Malaysia,
2000.

25.

Gray, D.H. and Sotir, R., Biotechnical and Soil Bioengineering Slope Stabilization, A
Practical Guide for Erosion Control, John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY, 1995.

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26.

Sotir, R.B., Difini, J.T. and McKown, A.F., "Soil Bioengineering Biotechnical Stabilization
of a Slope Failure," Proceedings, The Sixth International Conference on Geosynthetics,
Atlanta, Georgia, 1998.

27.

Sotir, R.B. and Stulgis, R.P., "Slope Stabilization Using Soil Bioengineering Case Studies",
Proceedings ASCE International Water Resource Engineering Conference Program, Seattle,
Washington, 1999.

28.

Newmark, N.M., Effects of Earthquakes on Dams and Embankments, Geotehcnique, Vol.


14, No. 2, pp. 139-160, 1965.

29.

Kavazanjian, E., Matasovic, N., Hadj-Hamou, T. and Sabatini, P.J., Geotechnical


Engineering Circular #3 Design Guidance: Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering for
Highways, Volume 1 Design Principles, FHWA-SA-97-076, 1997.

30.

Allen, T.M., Christopher, B.R. and Holtz, R.D., Performance of a 12.6 m High Geotextile
Wall in Seattle, Washington, Geosynthetics Reinforced Soil Retaining Walls, J.T.H. Wu
Editor, A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, 1992, pp. 81-100.

31.

HITEC, Technical Evaluation Report, Evaluation of The TENSAR MESA Retaining Wall
System, CERF Report: #40358 , Highway Innovative Technology Evaluation Center, Civil
Engineering Research Foundation (CERF), American Society of Civil Engineers,
Washington, D.C., 2000.

32.

ADAMA Engineering, Inc., Mechanically Stabilized Earth Walls: Program MSEW,


developed under contract with Federal Highway Administration, www.msew.com, Newark,
DE, 1998-2000.

33.

ADAMA Engineering, Inc., ReSSA: Reinforced Slope Stability Analysis, developed under
contract with Federal Highway Administration, www.msew.com, Newark, DE, 2001.

34.

Berg, R.R., Minnesota Department of Transportation Standard MSEW and RSS Designs,
Project Report Volume I, Summary Report, Minnesota Department of Transportation,
Oakdale, MN, June 2000, 98 p.

35.

Koerner, G.R., Hsuan, Y.G. and Hart, M., Field Monitoring and Laboratory Study of
Geosynthetics in Reinforcement Applications, Tasks B1 and B2, Geosynthetic Research
Institute, Philadelphia, PA, 2000, 116 p.

36.

Elias, V., Corrosion/Degradation of Soil Reinforcements for Mechanically Stabilized Earth


Walls and Reinforced Soil Slopes, FHWA-NHI-00-044, September 2000, 94 p.

37.

MNDOT, Technical Memorandum No.: 01-05-MR-01, Program Support Group, Minnesota


Department of Transportation, 8 February 2001, 8 p.

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[ BLANK ]

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APPENDIX A
DETERMINATION OF PULLOUT RESISTANCE FACTORS
Pullout resistance of soil reinforcement is defined by the ultimate pullout resistance required to cause
outward sliding of the reinforcement through the soil. Reinforcement specific data has been
developed and is presented in chapter 3. The empirical data uses different interaction parameters,
and it is therefore difficult to compare the pullout performance of different reinforcements.
The method for determining reinforcement pullout presented herein, consists of the normalized
approach recommended in the FHWA manual FHWA-RD-89-043 (1990). The pullout resistance,
F* is a function of both frictional and passive resistance, depending on the specific reinforcement
type. The scale effect correction factor, , is a function of the nonlinearity in the pullout load mobilized reinforcement length relationship observed in pullout tests. Inextensible reinforcements
usually have little, if any nonlinearity in this relationship, resulting in equal to 1.0, whereas
extensible reinforcements can exhibit substantial nonlinearity due to a decreasing shear displacement
over the length of the reinforcement, resulting in an of less than 1.0.
Both F* and must be determined through product specific tests, or empirically/theoretically using
the procedures provided herein and in Section 3.3, in particular table 5. It should be noted that the
empirical procedures provided in this appendix for the determination of F* reduce, for the most part,
to the equations currently provided in 1992 AASHTO for pullout design.
The pullout resistance of partial/full friction facing/reinforcement connections is defined as the load
required to cause sliding of the reinforcement relative to the facing blocks or reinforcement rupture
at the facing connection, whichever occurs first.
A.1

EMPIRICAL PROCEDURES TO DETERMINE F* AND

Pullout resistance can be estimated empirically/theoretically using the method provided in chapter
3. F* using this method, is calculated as follows:
F* = Frictional Resistance + Passive Resistance
= Tan + Fq
where Tan is an apparent friction coefficient for the specific reinforcement, is the soilreinforcement interface friction angle, Fq is the embedment (or surcharge) bearing capacity factor,
and is a structural geometric factor for passive resistance. The determination of each of these
parameters is provided in table 5, chapter 3, with estimated analytically using direct shear test data
and the "t-z" method used in the design of friction piles. However, since some test data is required
and the analytical method is complex, it is better to obtain directly from pullout test data or use
conservative default values for . If pullout test data is not available, a default value of 1.0 can be
used for for inextensible reinforcements and a default value of 0.6 to 0.8 can be used for extensible
reinforcements.
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A.2

EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURES TO DETERMINE F* AND

Two types of tests are used to obtain pullout resistance parameters: the direct shear test, and the
pullout test. The direct shear test is useful for obtaining the peak or residual interface friction angle
between the soil and the reinforcement material. ASTM D-5321 should be used for this purpose.
In this case, F* would be equal to tan peak. F* can be obtained directly from this test for sheet and
strip type reinforcements. However, the value for must be assumed or analytically derived, as
cannot be determined directly from direct shear tests. A pullout test can also be used to obtain
pullout parameters for these types of soil reinforcement. A pullout test must be used to obtain
pullout parameters for bar mat and grid type reinforcements, and to obtain values for for all types
of reinforcements. In general, the pullout test is preferred over the direct shear test for obtaining
pullout parameters for all soil reinforcement types. An ASTM standard for pullout testing is
currently under development. Until this standard is finalized, it is recommended that test procedures
GRI GG-5 and GRI GT-6 using the controlled strain rate method, be used in the interim as pullout
test procedures. For long-term interaction coefficients, the constant stress (creep) method can be
used. For extensible reinforcements, it is recommended that specimen deformation be measured at
several locations along the length of the specimen (e.g., three to four points) in addition to the
deformation at the front of the specimen. For all reinforcement materials, it is recommended that
the specimen tested for pullout have a minimum embedded length of 600 mm (24 inches).
Additional guidance is provided herein regarding interpretation of pullout test results.
For geogrids, the grid joint, or junction strength, must be adequate to allow the passive resistance
on the transverse ribs to develop without failure of the grid joint throughout the design life of the
structure. To account for this, F* for geogrids should be determined using one of the following
approaches:
!

Using quick effective stress pullout tests (i.e., "Controlled Strain Rate Method for ShortTerm Testing" per GGI:GG5 and GRI:GT6) and through-the-junction creep testing of the
geogrid per GRI:GG3a.

Using quick effective stress pullout tests (i.e., "Controlled Strain Rate Method for ShortTerm Testing" per GRI:GG5 and GRI:GT6), but with the geogrid transverse ribs severed.

Using quick effective stress pullout tests (i.e., "Controlled Strain Rate Method for ShortTerm Testing" per GRI:GG5 and GRI:GT6) if the summation of the shear strengths of the
joints occurring in a 300 mm (1 ft) length of grid sample is equal to or greater than the
ultimate strength of the grid element to which they are attached. If this joint strength criteria
is used, grid joint shear strength should be measured in accordance with GRI:GG2 (Koerner,
1988).

Conduct long-term effective stress pullout tests of the entire geogrid structure in accordance
with the constant stress (creep) method of GRI:GG5 (Koerner, 1991).

For pullout tests, a normalized pullout versus mobilized reinforcement length curve should be
established as shown in figure A.1. Different mobilized lengths can be obtained by instrumenting
the reinforcement specimen. Strain or deformation measuring devices such as wire extensometers
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attached to the reinforcement surface at various points back from the grips should be used for this
purpose. A section of the reinforcement is considered to be mobilized when the deformation
measuring device indicates movement at its end. Note that the displacement versus mobilized length
plot (uppermost plot in figure) represents a single confining pressure. Tests must be run at several
confining pressures to develop the Pr versus vLp plot (middle plot in figure). The value of Pr
selected at each confining pressure to be plotted versus vLp is the lessor of either the maximum
value of Pr (i.e., maximum sustainable load), the load which causes rupture of the specimen, or the
value of Pr obtained at a predefined maximum deflection measured at either the front or the back of
the specimen. Note that Pr is measured in terms of load per unit reinforcement width.
It is recommended that for inextensible reinforcements, a maximum deflection of 20 mm (-inch)
measured at the front of the specimen be used to select Pr if the maximum value for Pr or rupture of
the specimen does not occur first. For extensible reinforcements, it is recommended
that a maximum deflection of 15 mm (5/8-inch) measured at the back of the specimen be used to
select Pr if the maximum value for Pr or rupture of the specimen does not occur first. Note that it is
acceptable, as an alternative, to define Pr for inextensible reinforcements based on a maximum
deflection of 15 mm (5/8-inch) measured at the back of the specimen as is recommended for
extensible reinforcements.
F*peak and F*m are determined from the pullout data as shown in figure A.1. The method provided in
this figure is known as the corrected area method (Bonczkiewicz, et. al., 1988). The determination
of is also illustrated in figure A.1. Typical values of F* and for various types of reinforcements
are provided by Christopher (1993).
Note that the conceptualized curves provided in figure A.1 represent a relatively extensible material.
For inextensible materials, the deflection at the front of the specimen will be nearly equal to the
deflection at the back of the specimen, making the curves in the uppermost plot in the figure nearly
horizontal. Therefore, whether the deflection criteria to determine Pr for inextensible reinforcements
is applied at the front of the specimen or at the back of the specimen makes little difference. For
extensible materials, the deflection at the front of the specimen can be considerably greater than the
deflection at the back of the specimen. The goal of the deflection criteria is to establish when pullout
occurs, not to establish some arbitrary serviceability criteria. For extensible materials, the pullout
test does not model well the reinforcement deflections which occur in full scale structures.
Therefore, just because relatively large deflections occur at the front of an extensible reinforcement
material in a pullout test when applying the deflection criteria to the back of the specimen does not
mean that unacceptable deflections will occur in the full scale structure.

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Figure A.1

Experimental procedure to determine F* and for soil reinforcement using


pullout test.

-354-

A.3

CONNECTION RESISTANCE AND STRENGTH OF PARTIAL AND FULL


FRICTION SEGMENTAL BLOCK/REINFORCEMENT FACING CONNECTIONS

For reinforcement connected to the facing through embedment between facing elements using a
partial or full friction connection (e.g., segmental concrete block faced walls), the connection
strength resulting can be determined directly through long-term testing of the connection to failure.
The test set up should be in general accordance with NCMA Test Method SRWU-1 with the
modifications as described in the interim Long-Term Connection Strength Testing Protocol
described below. Extrapolation of test data should be conducted in general accordance with
appendix B. Tests should be conducted at a confining stress that is greater than or equal to the
highest confining stress considered for the wall system, and as necessary at additional confining
stresses below that level to determine behavior for the full range of confining stresses anticipated.
Regardless of the mode of failure extrapolation of the time to failure envelope must be determined.
Once the failure envelope has been determined, a direct comparison between the short-term ultimate
strength of the connection and the rupture envelope for the geosynthetic reinforcement in isolation
can be accomplished to determine RFCR. The connection strength obtained from the failure envelope
must also be reduced by the durability reduction factor RFD. This reduction factor should be based
on the durability of the reinforcement or the connector, whichever is failing in the test.
If it is determined that the connectors failed during the connection test and not the geosynthetic, the
durability of the connector, not the geosynthetic, should be used to determine the reduction factors
for the long-term connection strength in this case. If the connectors between blocks are intended to
be used for maintaining block alignment during wall construction and are not intended for long-term
connection shear capacity, the alignment connectors should be removed before assessing the
connection capacity for the selected block-geosynthetic combination. If the pins or other connection
devices are to be relied upon for long-term capacity, the durability of the connector material must
be established.
The connection strength reduction factor resulting from long term testing, CRcr, is evaluated as
follows:
T
CRcr  crc
Tlot
(A-1)
where Tcrc is the extrapolated ( 75 - 100 year) connection test strength and Tlot is the ultimate wide
width tensile strength (ASTM D 4595) for the reinforcement material lot used for connection
strength testing.
The connection strength reduction factor resulting from quick tests, CRult, is evaluated as follows:
CRult 

Tultconn
Tlot

where Tultconn is the peak connection load at each normal load.


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(A-2)

Testing Protocol
Objective: Determine the sustained load capacity of the connection between a modular block
wall (MBW) facing element and a geosynthetic reinforcing material.
Method: Construct a test apparatus of full-scale MBW units and geosynthetic reinforcing
material in a laboratory. Perform a series of tests at different normal loads (confining pressures)
to model different wall heights, varying the applied load from 95 percent of the peak connection
capacity determined from the quick connection test (SRWU-1) to 50 percent of the peak
connection capacity. Measure and record the deflections and time to pullout or rupture of the
connection.
Procedure:
8) Determine index properties of the geosynthetic reinforcing roll being tested:
a. Wide width tensile strength (ASTM D 4595)
Note: it is preferable to perform the D 4595 test on the roll sample being tested and
to perform the test in the same apparatus being used for the long-term connection
testing. This will help remove uncertainty in the test results from using different lots
of the geosynthetic reinforcement material and from comparing test results from
different test equipment.
b. Creep rupture envelope for geosynthetic: develop a rupture envelope for the
specific geosynthetic being tested based on creep rupture tests, appendix B, using
the same longitudinal strip of reinforcement.

75-year life
Material Creep Rupture Envelope

Creep Load (as a % of the


Ultimate Strength)

TULT

Elapsed Time (Hours)

Figure A.2

Creep Rupture Envelope for Geosynthetic Reinforcement

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2)
Determine short-term (quick test) connection properties of the MBW
unit/geosynthetic reinforcement combination, per NCMA SRWU-1, as modified
below.
A. Construct a test setup in general accordance with the NCMA SRWU-1 test
method with the following revisions:
1) Testing shall be carried out on a single width block specimen. Setup
shall consist of two MBW units at the base with one MBW unit centered
over the two base units.
2) Geosynthetic reinforcement width shall be as close as possible to the
length of the MBW unit (for geogrids this is dependent on the transverse
aperture). In no case shall the geosynthetic be wider than the length of
the MBW unit.
3) Geosynthetic specimen shall have sufficient length to cover the interface
surface as specified by the user. The specimen must be trimmed to
provide sufficient anchorage at the geosynthetic loading clamp and a free
length between the back of the MBW units and loading clamp ranging
from a minimum of 203 m m to a maximum of 610 mm (8 to 24 inches).
The same free length used for the short-term test shall be used for the
long-term test. The same longitudinal strip of reinforcement shall be
used for all short-term and long-term connection tests.
4) The temperature in the test space, especially close to the gage length of
the specimen shall be maintained within 2 C (4 F) of the targeted
value.
5) Where granular infill is required in the connection, half units may be
used to provide confinement for the granular fill on each side of the
single top unit. Granular fill may or may not be used in the short-term
and long-term test as desired. Whichever condition (with or without
infill) is selected for the short-term tests shall be the same for the longterm tests. Where granular infill is not required as part of the
connection, the single unit may be used.
6) Normal load shall be applied to the top of the MBW unit to provide the
desired confining pressure by a mechanism capable of maintaining the
desired load for a period of not less than one year. (It has been observed
that under rapid loading some blocks may rotate and short-term
instantaneous high normal loads can result if the vertical loading system
does not have the mechanical compliance necessary to dilate. Tests shall
be run for a period of 1,000 hours, however the apparatus should be
capable of sustaining loads for longer periods if determined later during
the test.)
7) Tension loads shall be applied to the reinforcing member in a direction
parallel to the connection interface, and in the plane of the connection
interface.(The mechanism for applying the tensile loads shall be
-357-

capable of sustaining an applied load for periods of not less than


one-year.)
B. Perform a series of quick tests in accordance with SRWU-1, as modified above,
on the MBW unit/ geosynthetic reinforcement combination at different normal
loads to establish the Tultconn/Normal Load connection curve.

3.) Determine the normal and tensile load levels for sustained load testing on the MBW
unit/geosynthetic reinforcement combination.
A. The highest normal load for the sustained load test may not exceed point A (figure
A.3) when the Tultconn/Normal load curve is bilinear or multilinear or point B
(figure A.3) when the slope of the curve is linear. Tultconn is defined as the ultimate
connection strength determined from NCMA SRWU-1. Additional normal loads
may be evaluated to determine the long-term connection strength as a function of
normal load.

A (example 1 connection where


curve becomes horizontal)

Peak Connection Load

Tultconn

B (example 2 connection
where curve is linear)

Tultconn

Normal Load (kN)

Figure A.3

Connection Strength (NCMA SRWU-1) verses Normal Load

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B. From the connection strength verses displacement curve (figure A.4) for the quick
test, using the normal load determined in step A, determine the applied tensions
loads for a range of percentages of the Peak Connection Capacity (e.g., 95, 90, 85,
80,75, 66 and 50 percent of Peak Connection capacity). The tensile loads should
be selected to define the connection rupture curve for 1000 hours.
4.) Perform sustained load testing on the MBW unit/geosynthetic reinforcement combination at
the normal and tensile load levels determined from step 3 using the same test apparatus used
to determine the short-term connection properties. A different test apparatus may be used to
perform the long-term tests as long as a correlation is made between the two test machines.
Unless otherwise agreed upon, a minimum of four normal load levels shall be used to
develop the connection rupture curve.
A. Assemble the MBW unit/geosynthetic reinforcement test as done in step 3, and
apply the normal load desired to the top MBW unit.
B. Apply the full load (e.g., 95, 90, 85, and 80 percent of Tultconn) tensile load rapidly
and smoothly to the specimen, preferably at a strain rate of 10 3%/min. Record
the total time for loading.
C. Measure the extension/deflection of the connection, at the back of the MBW unit
in accordance with the following approximate time schedule: 1,2,6,10,30 min, and
1,2,5,10,30,100,200,500 and 1000 hrs (Note: shorter reading times may be
required).

Tultconnn
T95
T90

Connection Load

T85
T80

Displacement (mm)

Figure A.4

Connection Strength verses Displacement (NCMA SRWU-1)

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Record the time to failure of the connection.


D. Repeat steps A through C for the other normal load levels recording the loads and
time to failure.
5.) Presentation of data.
A. Plot the results of the creep rupture test on a log time plot extrapolated to a
minimum of 75 years, per Appendix B. The extrapolated load is the (75 - 100
year) connection load, Tcrc
B. On the same graph, plot the time to failure for the results of the sustained load
tests on the reinforcement itself from Step 1.
C. From the data plot, extrapolate to 75 years (670,000 hrs), per Appendix B.
D. All deviations from the connection test setup from the actual connection used for
construction shall be noted in the test report.

Creep Load (as a % of Peak


Connection or Ultimate Strength)

75-year life
Material Creep Rupture Envelope
TULT

RFcr

Connection Envelope at
two different normal
loads

Elapsed Time (Hours)

Figure A.5

Connection Strength Rupture Curve

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APPENDIX A REFERENCES
AASHTO, 1996, Standard Specifications for Highway Bridges, with 2000 Interims, American
Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Fifteenth Edition,
Washington, D.C., USA, 686 p.
American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), 1994, Annual Book of Standards, Vol. 4.08
and 4.09, Soil and Rock, ASTM, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Bonczkiewicz, C., Christopher, B. R., and Atmatzidis, D. K., 1988, "Evaluation of Soil
Reinforcement Interaction by Large-Scale Pullout Tests," Transportation Research
Record 1188, pp. 1-18.
Christopher, B. R., 1993, Deformation Response and Wall Stiffness in Relation to Reinforced
Soil Wall Design, Ph.D. Dissertation, Purdue University, 352 pp.
Christopher, B. R., Gill, S. A., Giroud, J. P., Juran, I., Mitchell, J. K., Schlosser, F., and
Dunnicliff, J., 1990, Reinforced Soil Structures, Vol. 1, Design and Construction
Guidelines, Report to Federal Highway Administration, No. FHWA-RD-89-043.
Elias, V. and Christopher, B.R., 1997, Mechanically Stabilized Earth Walls and Reinforced Soil
Slopes Design and Construction Guidelines, FHWA No. FHWA-SA-96-071.
Koerner, R. M., 1991, "Determination of the Pullout Resistance of Geogrids," GRI Standard
Practice GG-5.
Koerner, R. M., 1991, Determination of the Pullout Resistance of Geotextiles," GRI Standard
Practice GT-6.
Collin, J.G., editor, 1997, Design Manual for Segmental Retaining Walls, Second Edition,
National Concrete Masonry Association, Herndon, Virginia.

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APPENDIX B
DETERMINATION OF CREEP STRENGTH REDUCTION FACTOR
(RFCR)
B.1

BACKGROUND

The effect of long-term load/stress on geosynthetic reinforcement strength and deformation


characteristics should be determined from the results of product specific, controlled, long-term
laboratory creep tests conducted for a minimum duration of 10,000 hours for a range of load
levels in accordance with ASTM D 5262. Specimens should be tested in the direction in which
the load will be applied in use. Test results should be extrapolated to the required structure
design life. Based on the extrapolated test results, the following is to be determined:

For limit state design, the highest load level, designated T1, which precludes both ductile
and brittle creep rupture.

For the limit state design, creep test results should be extrapolated to the required design
life and design site temperature in general accordance with the procedures outlined in this
Appendix.

The creep reduction factor, RFCR, is determined by comparing the long-term creep
strength, T1, to the ultimate tensile strength (ASTM D 4595) of the sample tested for
creep. The sample tested for ultimate strength should be taken from the same lot, and
preferably the same roll, of material which is used for the creep testing. For ultimate
limit state design, the strength reduction factor to prevent long-term creep rupture is
determined as follows:
RFCR 

T ultlot
T1

(B-1)

where, Tultlot is the average lot specific ultimate tensile strength (ASTM D 4595) for the
lot of material used for the creep testing.
At present, creep tests are conducted in-isolation (ASTM D 5262) rather than confined in-soil,
even though in-isolation creep tests tend to overpredict creep strains and underpredict the true
creep strength when used in a structure.
Considering that typical design lives for permanent MSE structures are 75 years or more,
extrapolation of creep data is required. No standardized method of geosynthetic creep data
modeling and extrapolation exists at present, though a number of extrapolation and creep
-363-

modeling methods have been reported in the literature (Findley, et. al., 1976; Wilding and Ward,
1978; Wilding and Ward, 1981, Takaku, 1981; McGown, et. al., 1984; Andrawes, et. al., 1986;
Murray and McGown, 1988; Bush, 1990; Popelar, et. al., 1991; Helwany and Wu, 1992). Many
of the methods discussed in the literature are quite involved and mathematically complex.
Therefore, rather than attempting to develop mathematical models which also have physical
significance to characterize and extrapolate creep, as is often the case in the literature (for
example, using Rate Process Theory to develop rheological models of the material), a simplified
visual/graphical approach will be taken. This does not mean that the more complex
mathematical modeling techniques cannot be used to extrapolate creep of geosynthetics; they are
simply not outlined in this appendix.
The determination of T1 can be accomplished through the use of either stress rupture data or
creep strain data. The specific steps required to determine T1 differ substantially depending on
which type of data is available. Creep strains are not typically monitored in stress rupture testing,
although creep strain tests can be carried to rupture. Rupture data is necessary if the creep
reduction factor for ultimate limit state conditions is to be determined. Stress rupture test results,
if properly accelerated and extrapolated can be used to investigate the effects of stress cracking
and the potential for a ductile to brittle transition to occur.
Since the primary focus of creep evaluation in current practice is at rupture, only extrapolation of
stress rupture data will be explained in this appendix. Creep strain data can be used to estimate
T1, provided that the creep strain data is not extrapolated beyond the estimated long-term rupture
strain. However, extrapolation of creep strain data is complex and not fully defined. Therefore,
no guidance is provided regarding extrapolation of creep strain data to determine T1.
Single ribs for geogrids or yarns for woven geotextiles may be used for creep testing for ultimate
limit state design provided that it can be shown through a limited 1,000 hour creep testing
program that the rupture behavior and envelope for the single ribs or yarns are the same as that
for the full product.
Current practice allows creep data to be extrapolated up to one log cycle of time beyond the
available data without some form of accelerated creep testing, or possibly other corroborating
evidence (Jewell and Greenwood, 1988; Koerner, 1990). Based on this, unless one is prepared to
obtain 7 to 10 years of creep data, temperature accelerated creep data, or possibly other
corroborating evidence, must be obtained.
It is well known that temperature accelerates many chemical and physical processes in a
predictable manner. In the case of creep, this means that the creep strains under a given applied
load at a relatively high temperature and relatively short times will be approximately the same as
the creep strains observed under the same applied load at a relatively low temperature and
relatively long times. Temperature affects time to rupture at a given load in a similar manner.
This means that the time to a given creep strain or to rupture measured at an elevated temperature
can be made equivalent to the time expected to reach a given creep strain or to rupture at in-situ
temperature through the use of a time shift factor.

-364-

The ability to accelerate creep with temperature for polyolefins such as polypropylene (PP) or
high density polyethylene (HDPE) has been relatively well defined (Takaku, 1981; Bush, 1990;
Popelar, et. al., 1991). Also for polyolefins, there is some risk that a "knee" in the stress rupture
envelope due to a ductile to brittle transition could occur at some time beyond the available data
(Takaku, 1981; Popelar, et. al., 1991). Therefore, temperature accelerated creep data is strongly
recommended for polyolefins. For polyester (PET) geosynthetics, limited evidence does appear
to indicate that temperature increases of at least twice that needed for polyolefins to produce a
given time acceleration may be feasible, based on data provided by den Hoedt, et. al., 1994.
However, the stress rupture envelopes for PET geosynthetics tend to be flatter than polyolefin
stress rupture envelopes, and accurate determination of time-shift factors may be difficult for
PET geosynthetics. This may require greater accuracy in the PET stress rupture data than would
be required for polyolefin geosynthetics to perform accurate extrapolations using elevated
temperature data. This should be considered if using elevated temperature data to extrapolate
PET stress rupture data. A two log cycle extrapolation without elevated temperature data is an
acceptable alternative for PET geosynthetics, provided an appropriate extrapolation safety factor
is applied to account for any minor curvature in the long-term rupture envelope not observed in
the data. Note that a "knee" in the stress rupture envelope of PET does not appear to be likely
based on the available data and the molecular structure of polyester. A two log cycle
extrapolation without elevated temperature data is not recommended for polyolefin geosynthetics
due to the potential for a "knee" to be present in the stress rupture envelope.
If elevated temperature is used to obtain accelerated creep data, it is recommended that minimum
increments of 10o C be used to select temperatures for elevated temperature creep testing for
polyolefins and 20o C for PET geosynthetics. The highest temperature tested, however, should
be below any transitions for the polymer in question. If one uses test temperatures below 80o C
for polypropylene (PP) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) and below 70o C for PET
geosynthetics, significant polymer transitions will be avoided. One should also keep in mind that
at these high temperatures, significant chemical interactions with the surrounding environment
are possible, necessitating that somewhat lower temperatures or appropriate environmental
controls be used. These chemical interactions are likely to cause the creep test results to be
conservative. Therefore, from the user's point of view, potential for chemical interactions is not
detrimental to the validity of the data for predicting creep limits.
B.2

STEP-BY-STEP PROCEDURES FOR EXTRAPOLATING STRESS RUPTURE


DATA

Step 1: Plot the stress rupture data on a plot of log time to rupture versus log load level, as
shown in figure B.1. Do this for each temperature in which creep rupture data is available. For
some materials, a semi-log plot could rather than a log-log plot could be used. In general, 12 to
18 data points are required to establish a rupture envelope (Jewell and Greenwood, 1988; ASTM
D 2837). The data points should be evenly distributed through each log cycle of time. Rupture
points with a time to rupture of less than 5 to 10 hours should in general not be used, and at least
one or two data points should have a time to rupture of 10,000 hours or more, before time
shifting.

-365-

Figure B.1

Typical stress rupture data and the determination of shift factors for timetemperature superposition.

-366-

It is acceptable to establish rupture points for times of 10,000 hours or more by assuming that
specimens subjected to a given load level which have not yet ruptured to be near a state of
rupture. Therefore, the time to rupture for those particular specimens would be assumed equal to
the time the load has been in place. Note that this is likely to produce conservative results.
For the elevated temperature rupture envelopes, it may not be necessary to establish the complete
rupture envelope. If a knee is already present in the rupture envelope obtained at the design
(ambient) temperature, only a few long-term rupture points need to be obtained at elevated
temperature(s) to establish the slope of the envelope beyond the knee out to the desired design
life. If a knee is not present in the ambient temperature rupture envelope, the elevated
temperature stress rupture envelope(s) must be well enough defined to determine whether or not
a knee is present.
Step 2: Extrapolate the stress rupture data. Stress rupture data can be extrapolated statistically
using regression analysis (i.e., curve fitting) without elevated temperature up to one log cycle for
all geosynthetic polymers and up to 2 log cycles for PET geosynthetics. For PP and HDPE
geosynthetics, stress rupture data at elevated temperatures should be obtained to allow timetemperature superposition principles to be used. Elevated temperature stress rupture data can be
used to extrapolate the rupture envelope at the design temperature through the use of a time shift
factor, aT. If the rupture envelope is approximately linear as illustrated in figure B.1(a), the single
time shift factor aT will be adequate to perform the time-temperature superposition. If, however,
the rupture envelope exhibits a "knee", resulting in a bilinear or curved envelope as illustrated in
figure B.1(b), a vertical shift factor "bT" along the load axis will also be required to make sure
that the "knees" line up properly. In essence, the shift is performed along the shift axis shown in
figure B.1(b). The shift axis simply connects the knee for each rupture envelope together.
The time to rupture for the elevated temperature rupture data is shifted in accordance with the
following equation:
tamb  (t elev)(aT)

(B-2)

where, tamb is the predicted time at in-situ temperature to reach rupture under the specified load,
telev is the measured time at elevated temperature to reach a rupture under the specified load, and
aT is the time shift factor. If a knee is present in the stress rupture envelope, the load for each
elevated temperature rupture data point is also shifted using the following equation:
Pamb  (Pelev)(bT)

(B-3)

where, pamb is the equivalent load level at in-situ (i.e., design) temperature at a given time to
rupture, Pelev is the measured load level at elevated temperature at a given time to rupture, and bT
is the load level shift factor. The magnitude of the time shift and load shift factors can be
determined graphically as illustrated in figure B.1(b). Adjust aT and bT such that the stress
rupture envelopes at elevated temperature line up with the stress rupture envelope at the design
(in-situ) temperature. If a knee in the stress rupture envelope only appears for the data obtained
-367-

at the highest temperature, it must assumed that a knee in the rupture envelope must be possible
at times beyond the available data for the lower temperature data as well. In this case, two
options are available to determine aT and bT, considering that the slope of the shift axis must be
determined:

Obtain creep data at a temperature higher than the highest temperature previously tested.

Assume that a knee in the rupture envelope occurs right at the end of the available data at
the next lower temperature below the envelope which exhibited a knee.

Once rupture envelope knee locations at two temperatures have been established, the slope of the
shift axis can be determined, and aT and bT can be determined as shown in figure B.1(b).

Step 3: Once the creep data has been extrapolated, determine the design, lot specific, creep limit
load by taking the load level at the desired design life directly from the extrapolated stress
rupture envelope as shown in figure B.2. If statistical extrapolation beyond the time shifted
stress rupture envelopes (PP or HDPE), or beyond the actual data if temperature accelerated
creep data is not available, is necessary to reach the specified design life, the calculated creep
load T1 should be reduced by an extrapolation uncertainty factor as follows:
T1  Pcl /(1.2)x 1

(B-4)

where Pcl is the creep limit load taken directly from the extrapolated stress rupture envelope, and
"x" is the number of log cycles of time the rupture envelope must be extrapolated beyond the
actual or time shifted data. The factor (1.2)x-1 is the extrapolation uncertainty factor. If
extrapolating beyond the actual or time shifted data less than 1 log cycle, set the exponent equal
to zero. This extrapolation uncertainty factor only applies to statistical extrapolation beyond the
actual or time shifted data using regression analysis and assumes that a knee in the rupture
envelope beyond the actual or time shifted data does not occur. This extrapolation uncertainty
factor also assumes that the data quality is good, scatter reasonable, and that a minimum of 12 to
18 data points, well distributed, define each stress rupture envelope. If the above criteria is not
met, the uncertainty factor may be increased. This extrapolation uncertainty factor should be
increased to (1.4)x if there is a potential for a "knee" in the stress rupture envelope to occur
beyond the actual time shift data, or if the data quality, scatter, distribution of data, or amount is
inadequate.

Step 4: The creep reduction factor, RFCR, is determined by comparing the long-term creep
strength, T1, to the ultimate tensile strength (ASTM D 4595) of the sample tested for creep. The
sample tested for ultimate tensile strength should be taken from the same lot, and preferably the
same roll, of material which is used for the creep testing. For ultimate limit state design, the
strength reduction factor to prevent long-term creep rupture is determined as follows:

-368-

RFCR 

T ultlot
T1
(B-1)

where, Tultlot is the average lot specific ultimate tensile strength (ASTM D 4595) for the lot of
material used for the creep testing. Note that this creep reduction factor takes extrapolation
uncertainty into account, but does not take into account variability in the strength of the material.
Material strength variability is taken into account when RFCR, along with RFID and RFD, are
applied to Tult to determine the long-term allowable tensile strength, as Tult is a minimum average
roll value. The minimum average roll value is essentially the value which is two standard
deviations below the average value.

Figure B.2

Extrapolation of stress rupture data and the determination of creep limit


load.

-369-

B.3.

USE OF CREEP DATA FROM "SIMILAR" PRODUCTS

Long-term creep data obtained from tests performed on older product lines, or other products
within the same product line, may be applied to new product lines, or a similar product within the
same product line, if one or both of the following conditions are met:

The chemical and physical characteristics of tested products and proposed products are
shown to be similar. Research data, though not necessarily developed by the product
manufacturer, should be provided which shows that the minor differences between the
tested and the untested products will result in equal or greater creep resistance for the
untested products.

A limited testing program is conducted on the new or similar product in question and
compared with the results of the previously conducted full testing program.

For polyolefins, similarity could be judged based on molecular weight and structure of the main
polymer (i.e., is the polymer branched or crosslinked, is it a homopolymer or a blend, percent
crystallinity, etc.?), percentage of material reprocessed, tenacity of the fibers and processing
history, and polymer additives used (i.e., type and quantity of antioxidants or other additives
used). For polyesters, similarity could be judged based on molecular weight or intrinsic viscosity
of the main polymer, carboxyl end group content, percent crystallinity, or other molecular
structure variables, tenacity of the fibers and processing history, percentage of material
reprocessed or recycled, and polymer additives used (e.g., pigments, etc.). The untested products
should also have a similar macrostructure (i.e., woven, nonwoven, extruded grid, needlepunched,
yarn structure, etc.), relative to the tested products. It should be noted that percent crystallinity is
not a controlled property and there is presently no indication of what an acceptable value for
percent crystallinity should be.
For creep evaluation, this limited testing program should include creep tests taken to at least
1,000 to 2,000 hours in length. These limited creep test results must show that the performance
of the new or similar product is equal to or better than the performance of the product previously
tested. If so, the results from the full testing program on the older or similar product could be
used for the new/similar product. If not, then a full testing and evaluation program for the new
product should be conducted.

B.4

CREEP EXTRAPOLATION EXAMPLES USING STRESS RUPTURE DATA

Two creep extrapolation examples using stress rupture data are provided. The first example uses
hypothetical stress rupture data which is possible for PET geosynthetics to illustrate the simplest
extrapolation case. The second example uses hypothetical stress rupture data which is possible
for polyolefin geosynthetics to illustrate the most complex stress rupture data extrapolation
situation, a stress rupture envelope which exhibits a "knee" in the envelope.

-370-

B.4.1 Stress Rupture Extrapolation Example 1


The following example utilizes hypothetical stress rupture data for a PET geosynthetic. The data
provided in this example is for illustration purposes only.
Given: A PET geosynthetic proposed for use as soil reinforcement in a geosynthetic MSE wall.
A design life of 1,000,000 hours is desired. The manufacturer of the geogrid has provided stress
rupture data at one temperature for use in establishing the creep limit for the material. The stress
rupture data came from the same lot of material as was used for the wide width load-strain tests.
The wide width ultimate strength data for the lot is as provided in figure B.3. The stress rupture
data is provided in figure B.4.
Find: The long-term creep strength, T1, at a design life of 1,000,000 hours and a design
temperature of 20o C, and the design reduction factor for creep, RFCR using the stress rupture
data.
Solution: The step-by-step procedures provided for stress rupture data extrapolation will be
followed. Step 1 has already been accomplished (figure B.4).
Step 2: Extrapolate the stress rupture data. Use regression analysis to establish the best fit line
through the stress rupture data. Extend the best fit line to 1,000,000 hours as shown in figure
B.4.
Step 3: Determine the design, lot specific, creep limit load from the stress rupture envelope
provided in figure B.4. The load taken directly from the rupture envelope at 1,000,000 hours is
63.4 kN/m. This value has been extrapolated 1.68 log cycles beyond the available data. Using
equation B.4,
T1  (63.4 kN/m)/(1.2)1.68 1  56.0 kN/m
Step 4: The strength reduction factor to prevent long-term creep rupture RFCR is determined as
follows (see equation B.1):
RFCR  T ultlot /T1
where, Tutlot is the average lot specific ultimate tensile strength for the lot material used for creep
testing. From figure B.3, Tutlot is 110 kN/m. Therefore,
RFCR  (110 kN/m)/(56.0 kN/m)  2.0
In summary, using rupture based creep extrapolation, T1 = 56.0 kN/m, and RFCR = 2.0

-371-

Figure B.3

Wide width load-strain data for PET geosynthetic at 20EC.

-372-

B.4.2 Stress Rupture Extrapolation Example 2


The following example utilizes hypothetical stress rupture data for a polyolefin geosynthetic.
The data provided in this example is for illustration purposes only.
Given: A polyolefin geosynthetic is proposed for use as soil reinforcement in a geosynthetic
MSE wall. A design life of 1,000,000 hours is desired. The manufacturer of the geosynthetic
has provided stress rupture data at three temperatures for use in establishing the creep limit for
the material. The stress rupture data came from the same lot of material as was used for the
creep strain tests. The wide width ultimate strength data for the lot is provided in figure B.5.
The stress rupture data is provided in figure B.6.
Find: The long-term creep strength, T1, at a design life of 1,000,000 hours and a design
temperature of 20o C, and the design reduction factor for creep, RFCR using the stress rupture
data.
Solution: The step-by-step procedures provided in Appendix B for stress rupture data
extrapolation will be followed. Step 1 has already been accomplished (figure B.6).
Step 2: Extrapolate the stress rupture data. Using time-temperature superposition, shift the
elevated temperature stress rupture envelopes along the shift axis as shown in figure B.6, since
there is a "knee" present in the elevated temperature stress rupture envelopes, so that the elevated
temperature rupture envelopes line up with the rupture envelope at 20o C. Doing this visually by
trial and error results in the following shift factors:
Temperature (oC)

aT

bT

30o C

6.0

1.03

40o C

25.0

1.06

Using Equations B-2 and B-3, time and load levels for each of the elevated temperature rupture
points are shifted to equivalent 20o C data as shown in table B-1.
The combined 20o C stress rupture envelope resulting from this shifting is shown in figure B.7.
Step 3: Determine the design, lot specific, creep limit load from the stress rupture envelope
provided in figure B.7. The load taken directly from the rupture envelope at 1,000,000 hours is
23.9 kN/m. Since no extrapolation beyond the temperature shifted data was necessary, set the
exponent to 0. Using Equation B-4,
T1  (23.9 kN/m)/(1.2)0  23.9kN/m

-373-

Figure B.4

Stress rupture data for PET geosynthetic at 20EC.

-374-

Figure B.5

Wide width load-strain data for polyolefin geosynthetic at 20EC.

-375-

Figure B.6

Stress rupture data for polyolefin geosynthetic.


-376-

Figure B.7

Stress rupture data for polyolefin geosynthetic after time/load shifting.

-377-

Table B-1: Stress Rupture Data Before and After Time/Load Shifting to Equivalent
20o C Data for Polyolefin Geosynthetic

Original Stress Rupture Data


Rupture Data at
20o C

Rupture Data at
30o C
Load
level
(kN/m)

Rupture Data at
40o C

Rupture Data at 40o


C After Shifting

Time
Shift =
6.0

Load
Shift =
1.03

Time
Shift =
25

Load
Shift =
1.06

Time
(hrs)

Load
level
(kN/m)

Time
(hrs)

Load
level
(kN/m)

Time
(hrs)

Load
level
(kN/m)

Time
(hrs)

6.9

54

7.4

46.8

6.2

43.2

44.4

48.204

155

45.792

48.6

11

46.8

11

43.2

66

48.204

275

45.792

12.3

47.7

16

44.1

22

39.6

96

45.423

550

41.976

20

49.5

24

45

50

40.5

144

46.35

1250

42.93

36

50.4

60

41.4

103

40.5

360

42.642

2575

42.93

40

45.9

85

44.1

215

38.7

510

45.423

5375

41.022

120

47.7

155

43.2

350

34.65

930

44.496

8750

36.729

270

45

275

39.6

800

37.8

1650

40.788

20000

40.068

380

47.7

420

41.4

1300

36

2520

42.642

32500

38.16

740

41.4

550

40.5

2300

34.2

3300

41.715

57500

36.252

1180

44.1

1300

39.6

4000

31.5

7800

40.788

100000

33.39

1500

40.5

3700

36

6700

32.4

22200

37.08

167500

34.344

3000

41.4

6100

37.8

8000

28.35

36600

39.964

200000

30.051

4700

42.3

12500

35.1

12000

28.8

75000

36.153

300000

30.528

6400

41.4

16000

34.2

15500

27

96000

35.226

387500

28.62

9000

37.8

18000

32.4

19000

26.1

108000

33.372

475000

27.666

13000

40.5

28000

31.05

30000

24.75

168000

31.9815

750000

26.235

18500

37.8

Time
(hrs)

Load
level
(kN/m)

Rupture Data at
30o C After
Shifting

-378-

Step 4: The strength reduction factor to prevent long-term creep rupture RFCR is determined as
follows:
RFCR  T ultlot /T1
where, Tultlot is the average lot specific ultimate tensile strength for the lot of material used for
creep testing. From figure B.5, Tultlot is 90 kN/m. Therefore,
RFCR  (90 kN/m)/(23.9 kN/m)  3.8
In summary, using rupture based creep extrapolation, Tl = 23.9 kN/m, and RFCR = 3.8

-379-

APPENDIX B REFERENCES
Andrawes, K.Z., McGown, A., and Murray, R. T., 1986, "The Load-Strain-Time Behavior of
Geotextiles and Geogrids," Proceedings of the Third International Conference on
Geotextiles, Vienna, Austria, pp. 707-712
Bush, D.I., 1990, "Variation of Long-Term Design Strength of Geosynthetics in Temperatures up
to 40o C", Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Geotextiles,
Geomembranes, and Related Products, The Hague, Netherlands, pp. 673-676.
den Hoedt, G., Voskamp, W., van den Heuvel, C.J.M., 1994, "Creep and Time-to-Rupture of
Polyester Geogrids at Elevated Temperatures," Proceedings of the Fifth International
Conference on Geotextiles, Geomembranes, and Related Products, Singapore, pp. 11251130.
Helwany, B., Wu, J.T.H., 1992, "A Generalized Creep Model for Geosynthetics," International
Symposium on Earth Reinforcement Practice, Japan, pp.
Jewell, R.A. and Greenwood, J.H., 1988, "Long-Term Strength and Safety in Steep Soil Slopes
Reinforced by Polymer Materials", Geotextiles and Geomembranes, Vol. 7, Nos. 1 and 2,
pp. 81-118.
Koerner, R.M., 1990, "Determination of the Long-Term Design Strength of Stiff Geogrids," GRI
Standard Practice GG4(a).
McGown, A., Andrawes, K. Z., and Kabir, M. H., 1982, "Load-Extension Testing of
Geosynthetics Confined In-Soil," Proceedings Second International Conference on
Geotextiles, Las Vegas, NV, Vol. III, pp. 793-798.
McGown, A., Paine, N., and DuBois, D.D., 1984, "Use of Geogrid Properties in Limit
Equilibrium Analysis", Proceedings of the Symposium on Polymer Grid Reinforcement in
Civil Engineering, Paper No. 1.4, pp. 1-5.
Murray, R. T., McGown, A., 1988, "Assessment of the Time Dependent Behavior of Geotextiles
for Reinforced Soil Applications," Durability of Geotextiles RILEM, Chapman and Hall.
Popelar, C. H., Kenner, V.H., and Wooster, J.P., 1991, "An Accelerated Method for Establishing
the Long-Term Performance of Polyethylene Gas Pipe Materials," Polymer Engineering
and Science, Vol. 31, pp. 1693-1700.
Takaku, A., 1981, "Effect of Drawing on Creep Fracture of Polypropylene Fibers", Journal
Applied Polymer Science, Vol. 26, pp. 3565-3573.

-380-

Wilding, M.A. and Ward, I.M., 1978, "Tensile and Creep Recovery in Ultra-High Modulus
Polyethylenes," Polymer, Vol. 19, pp.
Wilding, M.A. and Ward, I.M., 1981, "Creep and Recovery of Ultra High Modulus
Polyethylene", Polymer, Vol. 22, pp. 870-876.

-381-

[ BLANK}

-382-

APPENDIX C
APPROXIMATE COST RANGE OF GEOTEXTILES AND GEOGRIDS
Material Cost (1,2)
($/m2)

Geosynthetic

Filtration Geotextiles - Class 2 - AASHTO M-288-96

1.25 - 1.75

Erosion Control Mats

3.50 - 6.00

Temporary Erosion Control Blankets

1.25 - 2.50

Roadway Geotextile Separators - Class 2- AASHTO M-288-96

1.25 - 1.75

Asphalt Overlay Geotextiles

0.60 - 1.25

Geotextile Embankment Reinforcement3

2.50 - 12.00

Geogrid/Geotextile Wall and Slope Reinforcement4,5


- per 15 KN/m long term allowable strength, Tal

1.50 - 3.50

NOTES:
1.

Typical costs for materials delivered on-site, for use in engineer's estimate. Costs are
exclusive of installation and contractor's markup.

2.

Installation cost of geosynthetics typically are $0.30 to $0.90, except for very soft
ground and underwater placement.

3.

Assumes design strength is based upon a 5% to 10% strain criteria with an ASTM D
4595 test.

4.

Assumes allowable design strength is based upon a complete evaluation of partial


safety factors.

5.

Material costs of $2.00 to $6.00 should be anticipated if using the default procedure
for determination of long-term design strength.

-383-

[ BLANK ]

-384-

APPENDIX D
TYPICAL DIMENSIONS OF STEEL REINFORCEMENTS
Linear Strips
Reinforcement
Type

Reinforcement
Dimensions

Steel Strips
(ribbed)

4 mm thick by 50 mm
wide

Fy/Fu

Vertical Spacing

Horizontal Spacing

450/520 MPa

750 mm

Varies, but typically


300 to 750 mm

Welded Wire

Wire
Designation

Wire
Area
(mm2)

Wire
Diameter
(mm)

W3.5
W4
W4.5*
W5
W7
W9.5
W11
W12
W14
W16
W20

22.6
25.8
29.0
32.3
45.2
61.3
71.0
77.4
90.3
103
129

5.4
5.7
6.0
6.4
7.6
8.8
9.5
9.9
10.7
11.5
12.8

Longitudinal
Wire Spacing

Fy/Fu
450/550 MPa

Typically 150
mm

Transverse
Wire Spacing
Mat Spacing
Typically
varies 230
mm to 600
mm

*Typical min.
size for
permanent
walls

For welded wire


faced walls,
vertically 300 mm,
450 mm, or 600 mm
and continuous
horizontally.
For precast concrete
faced walls,
vertically 600 mm to
750 mm,
horizontally 1.1 m to
1.2 m wide mats
spaced at 1.9 m
center-to-center or
continuous

Bar Mats

Wire
Designation

Wire
Area
(mm2)

Wire
Diameter
(mm)

W11
W15
W20

71.0
96.8
129

9.5
11.1
12.8

Fy/Fu
450/520 MPa

Longitudinal
Wire Spacing

Transverse
Wire
Spacing

Typically 150
mm, with 4 to 7
longitudinal bars
per mat

Typically
150 mm to
600 mm

Mat Spacing
Typically 750 mm
vertically and 1.5 m
center-to-center
horizontally

Specific wall manufacturers may be able to provide a much wider range of reinforcement
configurations depending on the design needs.

-385-

[ BLANK ]

-386-

APPENDIX E
EXAMPLE REINFORCED
SOIL SLOPE ANALYSIS
with
RSS COMPUTER PROGRAM

-387-

Step 8. Design Slope using the Computer Program RSS.


This example, the problem is relatively simple a could be evaluated using the simple program
routine in the FHWA computer program RSS. This section provides the steps and input
necessary to run this analysis and presents the computer generated results. The steps are as
follows:
!
Load the RSS program and go to the main menu.
!
Hold the Alt key and press E to display the Edit submenu.
!
Move the cursor to the option Simple Problem and press Enter.
!
Enter in the input values for parameters requested on the menu as shown of the following
screen:

!
!

If an explanation of any of the input parameters is required, move the cursor to that item
and press the F! key.
Hold the Alt key and press G to generate all information required for geometry, soil
properties and water data. You want see anything different on the screen but if you work
through the other various Edit submenu items (e.g. Top Boundary), you will see that all of
the required data have been automatically inserted.
Hold the Alt key and press M to return to the main menu or press the Esc key

-388-

!
!

!
!

For a view of the input, press Alt V.


Hold the Alt key and press D to select the design option. This problem requires a
determination of the required strength of the reinforcement for a fixed vertical spacing.
Therefore, the Reinforcement Strength option is selected (by moving the cursor to that
option and pressing enter) and the vertical spacing discussed in Step 3c and 3e of the
example are input on the following screen. (Note: If the reinforcement strength was
known, i.e., from a preapproved products list, the program could also be used to calculate
the required spacing.)
Most of the other listed information is already set to match the inputted information and
preset default values.
For this example, it is assumed that continuous reinforcement will be used so 1.0 is
entered for the case of full extension.

-389-

Constants for the reinforcement must also be entered. As discussed in Step 4 of the
example, default reduction factors are used for the reinforcement strength and as
discussed in Step 6f, default values are also used for interaction parameters. Note the
factors in the program are intentionally conservative and generally require adjustment to
current practice and project conditions.
The design analysis can now be performed. Hold the Alt key and press C to calculate. A
box will pop up asking for the Output File Name. This file is where the detailed results
for the analysis is to be written.
A graph will appear on the screen showing each trial circle as it is analyzed. When this
part finishes, press any key to continue the analysis. A new graph shows the location of
reinforcement required for the most critical circle. Press any key to continue. The next
graph shows each sliding block as it is analyzed. Press any key to continue and see the
location of reinforcement required for the most critical circle modified in the bottom third
for the location of the critical sliding block. This process is repeated for sliding blocks in
the middle and top thirds of the slope. Press any key to continue and see trial surfaces
displayed again as they are analyzed for adequate reinforcement. Press any key one more
time to see the final reinforcement spacing and length required. The final graph and
summary output screens appear as follow:

-390-

******************************************************************************
*****
RSS
*****
*****
Reinforced Slope Stability
*****
*****
(c)1995 by GEOCOMP Corp, Concord, MA
*****
*****
licensed to FHWA for distribution by FHWA only
*****
******************************************************************************
File :
Date : Fri 04-21-:0, 09:39:32
Name :
Problem Title : RSS Example 1
Description : Reinforced Slope Design - Road Widening
Remarks : Simple Example Problem
******************************************************************************
*****
INPUT DATA
*****
******************************************************************************
Data for Generating Simple Problem
Note: The following data reflect the data used by Simple Problem to automatically generate a data file.
Changes made by editing that data are not reflected in the Simple Problem data.
X-Coordinate for Toe of Slope : 100.00 m
Y-Coordinate for Toe of Slope : 100.00 m
Height of Slope : 5.00 m
Angle of Slope : 45.0 deg
Angle Above Crest of Slope : 0.0 deg
Surcharge Above Crest of Slope : 10.0 kPa
Depth to Water from Crest of Slope : 6.00 m
Unit Weight of Soil in Slope : 21.00 kN/m^3
Cohesion for Soil in Slope : 0.00 kPa
Fiction Angle for Soil in Slope : 33.0 deg
Unit Weight of Soil in Foundation : 19.00 kN/m^3
Cohesion for Soil in Foundation : 0.00 kPa
Friction Angle for Soil in Foundation : 28.0 deg
Required Internal Factor of Safety : 1.30
Required Sliding Factor of Safety : 1.30
Profile Boundaries
Number of Boundaries : 4
Number of Top Boundaries : 3
Soil Parameters
Number of Soil Types : 2
Piezometric Surfaces
Number of Surfaces : 1
Unit Weight of Water : 9.81 kN/m^3
Boundary Loads
Number of Loads : 1

-391-

******************************************************************************
*****
TRIAL SURFACE GENERATION
*****
******************************************************************************
Data for Generating Circular Surfaces
Number of Initiation Points : 10
Number of Surfaces From Each Point : 10
Left Initiation Point : 100.00 m
Right Initiation Point : 103.75 m
Left Termination Point : 105.00 m
Right Termination Point : 115.47 m
Minimum Elevation : 0.00 m
Segment Length : 0.71 m
Positive Angle Limit : 40.50 deg
Negative Angle Limit : 0.00 deg
******************************************************************************
*****
TRIAL SURFACE GENERATION
*****
******************************************************************************
Data for Generating Rankine Block Surfaces
Number of Trial Surfaces : 100
Number of Boxes : 2
Segment Length : 5.00 m
******************************************************************************
*****
REINFORCEMENT DATA
*****
******************************************************************************
Data for Reinforcement Strength Design
Required Internal Factor of Safety : 1.30
Required Sliding Factor of Safety : 1.30
Lowest Elevation for Reinforcement : 100.20 m
Highest Elevation for Reinforcement : 104.80 m
Minimum Embedment Length : 1.00 m
Vertical Spacing : 0.40 m
Extension Factor : 1.00
Reduction Factor : 7.00
Pullout Factor of Safety : 1.50
Pullout Resistance Factor : 0.43
Embedded Scale Factor : 0.67
Slope Coefficient of Friction : 0.43
Foundation Coefficient of Friction : 0.43
******************************************************************************
*****
RESULTS
*****
******************************************************************************
Unreinforced Circular Surface Tmax
Circle Center X : 97.52 m
Circle Center Y : 111.02 m
Circle Radius : 10.99 m
Surface Height : 4.38 m
Factor of Safety : 0.892

-392-

Driving Moment : 1.169350E+003 kN-m/m


Required Reinforcement : 43.5 kN/m
Bottom Critical Zone Factor of Safety : 1.327
Middle Critical Zone Factor of Safety : 1.312
Top Critical Zone Factor of Safety : 1.415
******************************************************************************
*****
REINFORCEMENT DESIGN
*****
******************************************************************************
Reinforcement Length per Layer
Layer Elevation
Length
No.
(m)
(m)
1 100.20
5.34
2 100.60
5.30
3 101.00
5.27
4 101.40
5.09
5 101.80
4.12
6 102.20
4.21
7 102.60
4.21
8 103.00
4.16
9 103.40
3.03
10 103.80
3.00
11 104.20
2.93
12 104.60
2.83
NOTE: The lengths of reinforcement at each height are the minimum lengths of reinforcement necessary
to obtain the required factor of safety. For final design, these lengths should be adjusted to values
convenient for construction with a given material. If this adjustment results in shorter lengths than
computed for some layers, the Reinforcement Analysis option of the program should be used to
determine the factor of safety for the adjusted reinforcement pattern.
Minimum Reinforced Factor of Safety : 1.300
Total Reinforcement Length : 49.95 m/m
Required Ultimate Strength : 27.7 kN/m
NOTE: The total required length of reinforcement per unit width of slope results from the minimum
lengths of reinforcement at each height necessary to obtain the required factor of safety. This value is
provided to help compare reinforcement requirements from alternate analyses. Since additional
reinforcement will be required for overlaps, face wraps and construction tolerances, this value should not
be used directly to estimate construction quantities.

-393-

[ BLANK ]

-394-